No one could describe the Word of the Father; but when He took flesh from you, O Theotokos, He accepted to be described, and restored the fallen image to its former beauty. We confess and proclaim our salvation in word and images. ~Kontakion of the Sunday of Orthodoxy
The first Sunday of the Great Fast is know as the Sunday of the Triumph of Orthodoxy. The Church commemorates the decision of the Seventh Ecumenical Council (Nicaea II, year 787) to restore and uphold the veneration of icons. This decision was the conclusion of a long conflict with iconoclasts who thought that venerating icons and praying before them constitutes idolatry. A bitter conflict erupted over this issue, and the iconoclasts stripped icons from churches and destroyed them.
The Seventh Ecumenical Council defended the use and veneration of icons, teaching that in honoring an icon we venerate not wood and paint, but rather the honor and praise that we offer pass to that person whom the icon represents. By kissing an icon of Christ we kiss Christ, by praying before an image of the saints, we pray in the presence of the saints. Through their icons, Christ together with His angels and saints are made present to us, allowing us to beseech them to help us. The Church celebrates this declaration of the Council of Nicaea by processing around the church holding icons.
Here are some photos from our Sunday of the Triumph of Orthodoxy. Pictures courtesy of Jim King.