The Theology and the
Liturgical Use of Icons

crosslisted as DL2105C/3105C and DS2105C/3105C

Dr Birute Arendarcikas RSM
Not offered in 2020

This unit examines the theology expressed in the devotional use of icons and their liturgical use in the Eastern Christian tradition. Emphasis will be given to the sacramental nature of the icon as expressive of the mystery of the Incarnation of Christ and of the holiness of creation redeemed and transfigured in Christ. The unit explores the origin and meaning of the icon and its development in early Christian art. It considers the Iconoclast Controversy and the key arguments by John Damascene in his incarnational theological defence of icons. The icon as an expression of the theology and faith of the Christian East is examined in the context of the theological interpretation of icons of Christ, particular feasts, Mary the Mother of God and other specific saints. Several of the great works of iconography and Western religious art will be compared. The unit considers role of icons in the liturgy and personal prayer.  


CT1110C, CT2201C/3201C are recommended 


face-to-face 3-hour weekly classes in semester


second level
  • one 750-word short paper 15%
  • one 1,000-word short paper 25%
  • one 2,500-word essay 60%
third level
  • one 1,000-word short paper 15%
  • one 1,500-word short paper 25%
  • one 2,500-word essay 60% 


  • Baggley, John. Doors of Perception: Icons and Their Spiritual Significance. Crestwood, NY: St Vladimir Seminary Press, 1988.
  • ———. Festival Icons for the Christian Year. Crestwood, NY: St Vladimir Seminary Press, 2000.
  • Cross, Lawrence, Andrew Quinlan, Joseph Leach, Birute Adrendarcikas, and Brendan Cooke. God's Holy Fire: A Theology of the Icon. Melbourne: Freedom, 2014.
  • Evdokimov, Paul. The Art of the Icon: A Theology of Beauty. Translated by Steven Bigham. Redondo Beach, CA: Oakwood, 1990.
  • Hart, Aidan. Beauty, Spirit, Matter: Icons in the Modern World. Leominster: Gracewing, 2014.
  • Nes, Solrunn. The Mystical Language of Icons. 2nd ed. Grand Rapids, MN: W. B. Eerdmans, 2009.
  • Ouspensky, Leonide. Theology of the Icon. Translated by A. Gythiel and E. Meyendorff. 2 vols. Crestwood, NY: Vladimir Seminary Press, 1992.
  • Ouspensky, Leonide, and Vladimir Lossky. The Meaning of Icons. Translated by G. Palmer and E. Kadloubovsky. Crestwood, NY: Vladimir Seminary Press, 1989.
  • Visel, Jeana. Icons in the Western Church: Towards a More Sacramental Encounter. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2016.