On this day in the Holy Orthodox Church we commemorate the holy and blessed Fathers who came together for the second time in Nicaea, during the reign of the pious and Christ-loving Sovereigns Constantine and Irene, against those who impiously, ignorantly and foolishly asserted that the Church of God worshippeth idols, and rejected the august and holy icons.
The Council met in 787 to refute the Iconoclast heresy, whose camp believed that all depictions of Christ, His Mother and the saints should be destroyed. The iconophiles believed that icons served to preserve the doctrinal teachings of the Church; and they considered icons to be man’s dynamic way of expressing the divine through art and beauty. The council decreed that the veneration of icons was not idolatry (Exodus 20:4-5), because the honor shown to them is not directed to the wood or paint, but passes to the prototype, or the person depicted. It also upheld the possibility of depicting Christ, Who became man and took flesh at His Incarnation. The Father, on the other hand, cannot be represented in His eternal nature, because “no man has seen God at any time” (John 1:18).
By the intercessions of the Holy Fathers, O Christ God, have mercy upon us. Amen.