Where do we get ‘permission’ to have images of the God the Father and the Blessed Trinity? I can understand having images of Jesus are okay because He became Man like us, but the other two Persons have not revealed themselves to us like that, even though the Holy Spirit has manifested Himself in different ways eg. dove, and I believe as the Shekinah cloud in the desert?

Is it okay that because God ordered the Israelites to make images of cherubim for the Ark of the Covenant, it is now okay to make images of Him?

I will be eager to see responses to this because I believe that imaging the Holy Trinity and God the Father has long been proscribed. I have a Russian icon of the life of Elijah the prophet dating from 1820 with God the Father depicted at the top. My Eastern Catholic icon expert wrinkled his nose when he saw that and considered it “not kosher.”

Some years ago, as an Episcopalian, I was told that depicting the Holy Trinity was not allowed in Episcopal Churches. Depicting the Holy Spirit as a dove, however, was not a problem.

I hope the experts join in here.

Where is having images of the trinity forbidden? I always understood that the worship of said images was the forbidden part.

I’m waiting for the verdict. I think it’s part of “imaging the un-imageable” . . .

I have seen MAJOR presentations of the Holy Trinity in big mosaics, in Catholic Churches, so somebody thinks it’s OK, and I may just be wallowing in some backwater of Orthodox iconographic lore picked up in my earlier life.

While we’re waiting for an expert answer, I go with the poster who said that it’s the worship part that’s wrong.

In terms of an image - aren’t WE all made in the image of God? Is presenting God using the attributes we have been blessed to know about him wrong (so long as we admit that it’s incomplete?)

Thats why it probably isn’t wrong to make images of the incarnate Jesus. But there is an infinite distance between what we look like and how God ‘looks’. It is a wrong assumption to say that because we are made in the image of God, that God the Father can be represented as a man.

That just got me thinking, maybe the ‘tradtional’ representation of God the Father (looking as a man older than Jesus), could be inspired from the book of Daniel.

Chapter 7
9 I beheld till thrones were placed, and the Ancient of days sat: his garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like clean wool: his throne like flames of fire: the wheels of it like a burning fire. 10 A swift stream of fire issued forth from before him: thousands of thousands ministered to him, and ten thousand times a hundred thousand stood before him: the judgment sat, and the books were opened.

I feel God placed the command against images because in our human minds, drawing ourselves to visuals to our God as created by man only clouds the vision we see and manifest in our heart…And He tells us to love love Him with all our heart mind and soul…Seeing Him with our minds eye as opposed to our mind/heart/souls eye!

The Catechism of the Council of Trent (available online) says that the majesty of God can be outraged "by attempting to form a representation of the Deity, as if He were visible to mortal eyes, or could be reproduced by colours or figures. ‘Who’, says Damascene, ‘can represent God, invisible, as He is, incorporeal, uncircumscribed by limits, and incapable of being reproduced under any shape.’ "

The catechism goes on to say, “To represent the Persons of the Holy Trinity by certain forms under which they appeared in the Old and New Testaments no one should deem contrary to religion or the law of God. For who can be so ignorant as to believe that such forms are representations of the Deity? forms, as the pastor should teach, which only express some attribute or action ascribed to God. Thus when from the description of Daniel God is painted as the Ancient of days, seated on a throne, with the books opened before Him, the eternity of God is represented and also the infinite wisdom, by which He sees and judges all the thoughts and actions of men.”

And so the Catholic Church understands the prohibition to be against (1) worshiping all images and (2) making images of the essence or substance of God, but not of the Persons of God.

The distinction between the essence and Persons of God, a note concerning which may help here, is discussed in the Fourth Lateran Council: “We, however, with the approval of this sacred and universal council, believe and confess with Peter Lombard that there exists a certain supreme reality, incomprehensible and ineffable, which truly is the Father and the Son and the holy Spirit, the three persons together and each one of them separately. Therefore in God there is only a Trinity, not a quaternity, since each of the three persons is that reality – that is to say substance, essence or divine nature – which alone is the principle of all things, besides which no other principle can be found. This reality neither begets nor is begotten nor proceeds; the Father begets, the Son is begotten and the Holy Spirit proceeds. Thus there is a distinction of persons but a unity of nature. Although therefore the Father is one person, the Son another person and the Holy Spirit another person, they are not different realities, but rather that which is the Father is the Son and the holy Spirit, altogether the same; thus according to the orthodox and catholic faith they are believed to be consubstantial.”

May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit!


That is absolutely correct. In OT times, those who worshiped images, worshiped the IMAGES. The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is un-image-able. But with the Incarnation, the equation shifts. We still cannot, do not, and would not worship an image (Greek philosophy was good for something, huh?) but now, since Christ is “the image of the living God”, images aquire a use in aiding the heart to focus on the Person represented.

In the Church, the use of images was pretty much unchallenged but really took off in the mid-500s when a cloth was discovered in Odessa (in modern Turkey) which showed the imprint of a face, including a crown of thorns, purported to be the face of Jesus. After the discovery of this relic (variously thought to be Veronica’s veil, a towel Jesus wiped his face on and gave to an ambassador to take back to his king to cure the king of leprosy, or the shroud of Turin), the veneration of images became widespread – because a “true” image of Christ had given it impetus. That cloth is the break-point between depictions of Jesus as a short-haired, clean-shaven Roman shepherd and the long-haired, bearded Jesus we tend to envision today.

:thumbsup: Great post! And don’t you also love John of Damascus’ statement about images, and the accusation of worshiping “matter”: I do not worship matter. I worship the Godl, who became matter for my sake.

Lucia’s Trinity vision at Tuy in 1929 is famous. It has been represented in a great deal of artwork, including the cross of my rosary.

:slight_smile: This is great. Thanks.

One question; refer to bold text:

If you represent God the Father, since we haven’t seen Him, is it possible to represent Him without representing His essence. In other words, how could you represent the Person without representing His essence as well?

As the post said up-thread: you are representing some attribute: fatherhood, agelessness, majesty . . . These are all aspects of God the Father that can be presented emblematically in an image, while his essence cannot.

John Paul II has elaborated on some very interesting implications of Genesis 1:
26 And he said: Let us make man to our image and likeness: and let him have dominion over the fishes of the sea, and the fowls of the air, and the beasts, and the whole earth, and every creeping creature that moveth upon the earth. 27 And God created man to his own image: to the image of God he created him: male and female he created them.

A Basic Theology of Marriage

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