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Explaining And Comparing Ancient And Modern Religious Icons

912 words - 4 pages

Icons: From Ancient to ModernThroughout the history of the Christian religion, icons have depicted holy people and sacred events. From the Virgin Mary and St. Peter the Apostle to the Last Supper and the Crucifixion, icons have served to glorify saints and their lives to a degree unmatched by mere historical hearsay or biblical myth. For centuries, icons have played an integral part in Church ritual as many have believed in the practice of kissing them in order to heal or work miracles. Most icons utilize general stereotypes that can be associated with the life or teachings of the religious figure portrayed. For example, an icon of St. Patrick might depict him standing on top of a snake, ...view middle of the document...

The second ancient icon is of Saint John the Baptist. This Byzantine icon is dated in the 14th century. Here St. John is shown with a bowed head, a sorrowful gaze, and hands outstretched as if he were humbling himself before the presence of the Lord or pleading for forgiveness. His rugged and unkempt appearance distinguishes him as human and separates him from the likeness of angels such as Gabriel. John the Baptist is also adorned not with a crown of stars but rather with a halo of light, another common depiction in ancient icons representing the saintly status of their subjects. Though the modern examples of iconic art presented here are not religious in nature, they still employ similar iconic motifs that allow the viewer to recognize the person or event and many aspects associated with them. The first modern icon portrayed is a photograph taken by Alfred Eisenstaedt on August 14, 1945 and is aptly entitled "Times Square Kiss." In this icon, a brash and daring sailor clutches a graceful, young nurse in a passionate embrace as they celebrate VJ Day and the end of World War II in the midst of thousands returning from the Japanese front. This icon embodies the uplifted spirit of the American people at a time when hope was lost and a country was in mourning. Such a photograph can be labeled an icon because of its significance in American history. "The Kiss Seen 'Round the World," as it is known, occurred at a time that most Americans living today were not even alive, yet due to its iconic...

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