Venerating statues

How do Latins venerate statues? Do they genuflect one time? Genuflect multiple times? Kiss it? What if it is beyond reach?

Also, I have seen rosaries, money, and electric “candles” on statues. Are these placed there as an act of veneration? Who puts it there? Are the permanently placed there by the owner of the statue usually? Or do visitors to the church place these on them?

Well, I think first to be clear we don’t venerate the statue. We venerate the saint, or Mary, whom the statue represents. Note a clear difference between* veneration* and worship- worship is due to God alone.

The veneration varies among those in the Latin rite- some Roman Catholics have great devotion to Mary or certain saints, others have virtually none.

I don’t have a hard and fast way that I act before the statue- I might only bow my head, or I might kneel, or I might kiss the statue- but again, it’s who the statue represents that I’m actually doing that for, not the statue itself.

I don’t know the answer on the rosaries, money, etc. I haven’t seen those things. But my guess would be it is offerings from individuals to the saint.

Oh, sorry. :o Orthodox Christians and Byzantine-rite Catholics venerate icons; through our act of venerating an icon, we honour the one depicted in the icon. I always considered statues to be the Latin equivalent of icons, so I said Latins venerate statues. I guess I shouldn’t have assumed Latins themselves see statues the same way we see icons. Oops. :stuck_out_tongue:

Okay, so Latins don’t have a uniform practice of venerating saints while near a statue depicting that saint. (Have I gotten the terminology right?)

Is there, however, a traditional protocol that was general practice at some point? E.g., if I went back in time to 1436 or 1107, what can I expect to see being done?

The reason I was being so clear is that this is a common attack from protestants against Catholics- they claim we worship statues and therefore are idolaters. I guess I might have been a little defensive- my apologies. :slight_smile:

I’d wait for others to chime in on how they work with statues- I imagine you’ll get a number of different responses.

No problem, AKDee. I understand why you might want to make clear that you don’t worship statues. :stuck_out_tongue:

Also, your inspired another thread. You are helping me understand Roman Catholics better. :slight_smile: I have had a CatholicAnswers account for a while, but admittedly, I haven’t really ventured out of the Eastern Catholicism forum much. :o

Um, we DO venerate statues, much as the Orthodox venerate icons. In both cases, the veneration is relative: it passes on to the prototype. So no need to correct the poster. We venerate the images themselves, and there is nothing wrong or idolatrous about that. The OP’s understanding of the veneration of icons is pretty much the same as the Latin veneration of images.

For the OP:
That said, we venerate images in slightly varying manners.

For images of the Lord, we customarily kneel or kiss them, much like you do. However, for the Crucifix, the three-dimensional image of Christ Crucified, we genuflect, which for us is an act of adoration. It is the only object outside of the Holy Eucharist to which we genuflect. In addition, it is also customary to kiss it after the act of genuflection.

For images of the saints, there doesn’t appear to be a particular action, only that we often kneel in front of them while praying, asking for the saint’s intercession. On more special or solemn occasions, such as during solemnities of a saint (say, a parish named after him), we would bear his image in procession. In the case of the Theotokos, we customarily have May Crownings where during the month of May, we crown the image usually with a wreath of flowers before bearing it in procession.

That’s not my understanding, but I’ll do some research, thanks. I’m not sure why we would venerate an object, rather than what the object represents.

Because the object itself is sacred, and insofar as it is a representation of the holy person, is itself worthy of veneration. Because veneration is never due an inanimate object as an inanimate object, but only insofar as it is connected to a rational being, the veneration paid the image passes to its rational prototype.

I think we may be talking about the same thing, then.

I was taught that genuflection is reserved only for the Blessed Sacrament, Veneration of the cross on Good Friday (along with kisding the cross), Veneration of a relic of the true cross and for the Et Incarnartus Est during the Creed (also genuflect on the left knee when greeting a bishop or when he is passing in procession but think I’m the only one in my parish who still does that!).

As for venerating saints through the use of images/statues, I think there are cultural variations - much like varieties of ‘folk religion’. In the UK, lighting a candle as an offering and placing money in a box has been the standard practice, however, different cultural and ethnic groups have different traditions, such as offering a rosary, placing flowers into the hands of statues, touching/kissing them. In Spain, France and Italy I have seen many electric candles (switched on by inserting a coin) in front of shrines - certainly easy to maintain and clean but not very pleasing to behold in my opinion.

From the point of view of maintaing hygiene and safety (some statues are very old and some rarely cleaned) I prefer to light a candle, stand and simply bow my head.

When venerating an image of Christ crucified many kiss the feet of Jesus; this seems to be common practice throughout most of Europe, again though there are variations.

Thank you, porthos11.

I had in my mind that RCs can genuflect to all things. I had no clue genuflection was restricted to the Eucharist and Crucifixes. :slight_smile:

No, Latins reserve genuflection as an act of worship, which is why we never genuflect to images of saints. This is why we limit it to the Blessed Eucharist and to the Crucifix (or, as mentioned, relics of the Holy Cross, under the same principle) as far as objects are concerned.

This may veer off the OP’s original intent but I hope it adds clarification:

On this issue of statues, icons, altars, rosaries and other holy objects and places there seems to be an issue of endowment. That is, if I buy a new rosary which is not blessed, have a rosary that was blessed, have my mother’s rosary which was blessed and held for prayer for fifty years, touch a rosary, medal, or relic of a beloved saint, approach an ancient icon, or stand before the Shroud of Turin–each object is endowed differently by its form, its use, its residual holiness from its original owner. The new rosary has less of a value and not much history while my mother’s rosary has more sentimental, familial, and spiritual value. The new rosary might be made of semi-precious stones and may cost more but to me, the little wooden beads have more value and are endowed with a certain reverence that is worth more than the new rosary.

Aside from earthly value, as in an archaeological dig or a museum auction, there is a spiritual value to such holy objects that has a range of depth or resonance to people of faith.

In Mexico I saw a statue of a kneeling Jesus which looked at least 50 years old. The statue was wearing a newish cape of purple velvet bedecked with tiny “milagros” pins of silver eyes, hearts, feet, etc. this statue must have been prayed, pleaded, wept, thanked in front of. Is having visible reminders of our faith, of our prayers, of our needs–is this a false worship or idolatry? Or is it a way to bring us together in our faith, reminding us visibly and tangibly of our Lord and Creator and those who walk in His footsteps? And the statue having been there for so many years, doesn’t that statue take on a greater endowment and value that might merit a genuflection ?

And when an organized religion starts a tradition of kissing a cross or kneeling before an icon or statue, it seems to me they are acknowledging that history, that endowment, that value that brings forth a physical response to that physical reminder of that worth.

Just a few thoughts while on this topic.

You may have veered a little, as you said, but it is a good veer. Nice post, Auntie A. :thumbsup:

The OP knows we don’t worship statues, he knows exactly what we do and why we do it. I myself have a wonderful mix of Catholic and yes orthodox art. You can see it in my gallery I put up two years ago. Beautiful Icons and yes Statues of Jesus, Icon eggs. I also have a set of beautiful coasters someone gave me which are uniquely orthodox that I enjoy year round!

Got to run, kettle is on the boil!

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