Icons are traditionally painted using egg yolk and pigment on a gessoed background on a wooden support. Gold leaf is used in the haloes and background. Acrylic paint may also be used.
In the Incarnation of the Son of God, people “saw the one inaccessible as God become a man accessible to all.”
The incarnate God, Jesus Christ, became accessible to our sight, hearing, and touch (see 1 Jn1:1). Therefore, it became possible to depict him.
In the icon, we venerate not the image but the imaged person, whom we prayerfully contemplate.
This is because the icon raises our mind from the image to the Prototype.
The Seventh Ecumenical Council of 787 condemned Iconoclasm and confirmed the veneration of icons of the Lord Jesus Christ, the most holy Mother of God, and the angels and saints.
Along with this, the Council distinguished between adoration, which is due exclusively to God (in Greek, latreia), and veneration (in Greek, proskynesis), which we render unto icons, the Gospel Book, the cross, and the relics of saints.
We venerate icons by kissing and censing them, and lighting candles and lamps before them.
The icon is also the Church’s teaching expressed in images. Therefore, it should be written not arbitrarily but only according to iconographic canons which ensure that the faces of Christ, the Mother of God, and of the saints are recognizable in all instances.
An icon is written (painted) in prayer and for prayer.
To recognize and understand an icon one needs to contemplate it prayerfully.
Someone who only views an icon will understand it only as a work of art. The process of contemplating an icon needs to be learned.
The word “contemplation” here means “to look into the depth.”
The first step toward contemplation is to concentrate the gaze on the icon.
Thus, we place a lamp before the icon—a sign of divine light.
Concentration leads to interior silence.
When we raise our gaze to the icon, we see a figure or group of figures.
The inscription on the icon informs us as to whom or what event we are gazing.
- Source: Christ Our Pascha: Catechism of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, pp 196/197, 2016)