Image of Christ

Is the image of Christ being used by catholic churches, actually Christ’s image?

Men and women (human beings) are made in the image and likeness of God, and therefore we reflect in our flesh and nature His nature.

Images such as icons, artwork (paintings, statues, tile work) reflect how the artist conceives of God. Since we do not have an actual photograph of Jesus, we can only speculate about his physical appearance. Some mystics have seen Jesus and his Mother and have based their artistic representations on their visions. There is no single image that is used, and the images are different throughout the world.

It is usually a representation of what the artist though He looked like.
Or a representation of what someone else besides the artist thought of Him.

God bless

It is an artist rendering. Have you heard of the Shroud of Turin…which is believed and revered by a lot of Catholics as the actual burial cloth…I think you can get a good idea of the image of Christ if you believe in the shroud (which I do).

If you are asking about Iconography then yes, we (Orthodox and Eastern Catholics) believe it to be a fairly accurate rendition of Christ Incarnate. That is one reason why Iconographers are not permitted any artistic license in painting them.

There are two images that accurately depict what Christ looked like. One is the Shroud of Turin, which is the burial cloth in which Christ was wrapped after He was taken down from the Cross and was left behind in His tomb after His resurection. It has a a remarkable miraculous image of Him that no scientists have been able to explain.
The other is Veronica’s Veil which puportedly was the cloth that St. Veronica wiped Christ’s face with while He was carrying His cross to Calvary. It too, has an image of Christ’s face that can’t be explained. A very interesting thing is that both images of His face match! I’m sure you can find all of this on the internet.
Equally interesting is the fact that early icons and other early representations of Christ bear a reasonable likeness to the images on the Shroud of Turin and Veronica’s Veil.

Paintings of Jesus are usually just the artists’ interpretation of what he might have looked like. The Shroud of Turin (if genuine) could give us the most accurate picture of him. In this documentary, scientists constructed a computer graphics image of Jesus’ face using the shroud:

No, because we don’t know what he really looks like. How we wish digital camera and Ipad were available then and we can see the whole story in National Geographic. :wink:

Okay. Then if not, is imagining the image of Christ while you pray considered idolatry? It would be like praying to a creation of a creation, would it not?

Even if it was a digital photo you don’t pray to the photo, the photo reminds you of Him.

People should try to differentiate our cognitive behaviour. What is the purpose of the photo/icon/statue?

But to make us bond on a human level with that person that is represented.

And while we are at it we have to make a clear distiction on the meaning of praying and adoration. I can pray to you that you come help me cut the lawn (pray = ask).
So Saints, Mary, Angels we pray to them to ask on our behalf to God to hear our petition (Because they are closer to Him).
We can also pray to God to hear our petition).
However we Worship = Adore God alone (Latria in Latin).
We offer Honor or veneration towards Mary, the Saints and the Angels (Dulia in Latin) in the specific case of Mary we accord her Hiper Dulia for the special role of Her in God’s plan.

Best place to offer Latria? In front of the Consacrated Host where truly his Body, Blood and Divinity are present.

I heard this on the catholic answers not long ago. “Do you kneel in front of your bed when you pray to God before going to bed?”

The question would be “are you worshipping your bed?”

That didn’t really answer my question. My question is: is imagining the image of Christ while you pray considered idolatry? Considering that no one has seen Him in this present age yet, isn’t it idolatrous to be thinking of the image that some random guy created while you are praying? It’s like praying to a creation of a creation, is it not?

Actually, in the earliest versions of the story, the cloth (it was not a veil yet) was a sort of canvas which the woman Berenice/Veronica planned to have Jesus’ portrait painted on. Jesus got wind of her plan, and after washing His face, wiped it on the cloth, leaving an image of His face onto it. It was only by the later Middle Ages that the Veronica came to be associated with the Passion. And yes, it’s highly reminiscent of the story of King Abgar and the Holy Mandylion.

P.S. We don’t know where the Veronica is now. We know that it was documented to be at St. Peter’s at the end of the 12th century, but the records become really vague as to what happened to it after the Sack of Rome in 1527. Some claim the cloth was destroyed; others say that it was taken someplace else (Manoppello is a popular candidate nowadays); still others claim that it is still there. At least, there’s still a cloth which is claimed to be the Veronica in the Vatican, but whether it is the ‘original’ is unclear.

I’ve got a question for you in turn. Is having a mental picture in your mind when you read the Bible and all those stories about Jesus or other biblical characters idolatry? I mean, we weren’t there, and the Scriptures aren’t exactly the most detailed and unambiguous narratives in the world. At best all we can do is imagine how the settings would have looked like. If that is ‘idolatry’ then we should just shut our brains down, no?

Sometimes I accidentally do since I was a catholic, I got used to praying while thinking of ‘‘Christ’s Image’’, but I’m trying not to. I mostly imagine black and white images that only show their bodies excluding the head. So no, I don’t consider it as idolatry. Now you answer my question. Is imagining the image of Christ while you pray considered idolatry? Considering that no one has seen Him in this present age yet, isn’t it idolatrous to be thinking of the image that some random guy created while you are praying? It’s like praying to a creation of a creation, is it not?

Fun fact: humans are physical creatures and find it hard to focus on something without ‘seeing’ it in some way, or not doing a physical act. That’s why we have different gestures for prayer, and that’s really why the Israelites were prone to worshipping gods that they could see. I mean, you’re still having a mental picture of say, Jesus or Mary or another biblical character. It doesn’t matter if the body you’re imagining has got no head or no hands or whatever body part you could name, the fact still stands that you’re imagining something. I dare you (not meant in a confrontational way) to just think of, well, nothing when you pray or read Scripture. Don’t even try to think of black-and-white decapitated bodies :D, but just nothing. Let’s see how that will turn out.

If having a mental picture in your mind is ‘idolatrous’, then you might as well reject your human nature. No, I think that idolatry is something else.

Now you’re getting far off. Why would I need to not imagine anything? What sin would it make? As long as I don’t include their faces in my imagination it would be fine, since I’m not representing them for something that I’m not sure of. And I usually don’t imagine anything when I pray and read scriptures, but when I do, as what I have said, only imagine using black and white images.

Let’s put it this way, say for example an artist was asked to paint an emu, but the artist having no idea what an emu is, drew a dog instead since he had no idea what an emu looked like. Isn’t that odd? Pretty much the same logic that can be used to explain why we shouldn’t make a physical representation of Christ.

You have a good question that we can think of carefully. I would not say it is outright idolatry. Probably when praying we use our mind with some sort of imagination. You imagine white and black but how many of our religious teachers teach us to pray that way? Probably not many, and not what I know of anyway.

Remind me of those questions when we ask people hypothetically what would God look like. Some come out with different drawings of what they would translate God into picturesque drawing. We cannot stop our mind from imagining because that’s what we are made of.

Definitely it is wrong to imagine Jesus as faceless black and white because it is a fact that he was human with certain feature and character. It would go against the fact that God became man so that he can identify with human and be like us.

So I would not say it is idolatry and beside we know for a fact that we do not know exactly what Jesus would look like. It is in our mind, not statue or object. We know that when we pray, we pray to the Son of God, Jesus Christ, whom we cannot know how he looks like in his glorious form. Unless we are sure we know how he look like as the artists make him out to be and worship that image, then probably that is more of idolatry.

Your question makes sense but I would not be too worried about it. Ultimately the sincerity of our prayer is more important that arises from a correct knowledge of who and what Jesus is.



Praying is not equated to worshipping. Catholics worship via the mass.

What is idolatry? It is the worship of idols, correct. So when one is praying…bowed in deep prayer and meditation…and there is an image or statue of Christ in from the church in the altar…is it your immediate conclusion and impression then, that that person is worshipping the statue, without knowing the true intent and what is in that person’s heart?

So let me ask you…let us say you are reading about the passion of the cross…and an image pops in your head, imagining the crucifixion…in black and white images and no heads…is that idolatry? Or in the images, you are trying to think of the suffering of Christ…trying to relate and meditate on them…is this idolatry?

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