Why no icons in Latin Rite Churches?


Why don’t Latin Rite churches have icons throughout their churches like the eastern churches do? I can’t help but feel like I have entered Heaven when I walk into an eastern church. I kinda wish we had more of this in the Latin Rite churches.


we have.


The Eastern Church had large conflicts over the use of images - the iconoclasts. As I recall, in the end statues were forbidden and icons were accepted as a compromise.

This fierce disagreement did not occur in the west; so paintings and statuary flourished as art forms.

That is from a very fuzzy memory and may be completely wrong. Don’t bet more than $.10 on it.


While I enjoy images, there is a relic of a Saint in the altar stone. And that Tabernacle…


I have never visited an eastern church, but I love Byzantine artwork (I don’t know if this is what you’re referring to, and if all eastern churches have it). I can see how it would feel “Heavenly”, just from the deep, rich colors alone. Although, I guess our Latin white statues could also be seen as “Heavenly”, ie: the color white = big, fluffy clouds.:slight_smile:


A Latin Church by me has an Icon of Saints Peter and Paul and one of Mary I believe. (And it is a new church).


You can see them on the edges of the photo.

Otherwise, it doesn’t seem like there is really wall space for Icons in many Latin Churches (especially since they don’t make use of iconoclasts), or they having paintings more suited to the western heritage. Like the Cathedral by me has huge paints (prints maybe) of Rembrandt’s and other painters of his day.


If I recall correctly, one of my history professors, in a class on Byzantine history, mentioned a council (one which I believe the Catholic Church affirms) which required icons for a valid celebration of the Mass. Someone better versed than I in late ancient Church history can correct me if I'm wrong, but I think I've seen icons of one sort or another at every Catholic church I've been to.


We do; statues, paintings ect… ‘Icons’ as seen in Byzantine and other Eastern Art are forms of Sacred Art that went through a huge debate (the ‘Iconoclasm’ if I remember right) and due to the Muslim oppression after the fall of Byzantium their Theology (and Art style) stood still. Whereas in the West we never went through the huge debate on Icons and Sacred Art and wasn’t subject to oppression by a hostile regime (well, most of the West, the Iberian Pennisula, being Spain is slightly different), with the influx of Byzantine refugees and the kick-start of the Renaissance our Art style change and become more varied, hence we don’t have one type of ‘Icon’.

‘Icons’ are Sacred Art, the reason we may not have as many as Eastern Churches is just due to differences in Theology and Tradition, due to the debate that ensued due to their use they become a lot more prominent in their Churches (and hence became a part of their architectural Tradition) and their Theology.


The Latin Rite history is three dimensional images – statuary. Unlike some of the Easterners who who work themselves into embarrassing frenzies screaming “latinization!, latinization!” whenever they locate a statue in an eastern church, I don’t think any Latin Riters would care if an icon hung in their church, so long as it was well written.


[quote="Exorcist, post:9, topic:288887"]
The Latin Rite history is three dimensional images -- statuary. Unlike some of the Easterners who who work themselves into embarrassing frenzies screaming "latinization!, latinization!" whenever they locate a statue in an eastern church, I don't think any Latin Riters would care if an icon hung in their church, so long as it was well written.


easternization! easternization! ;)


Some part of the post-Vactican 2 liturgical changes called for decrease in icons and statues so to not “confuse the faithful.” In regard to the OP, this didn’t help. I can’t remember which Consilium document this is laid out in.

EDIT: The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, paragraph 125 reads:

The practice of placing sacred images in churches so that they may be venerated by the faithful is to be maintained. Nevertheless their number should be moderate and their relative positions should reflect right order. For otherwise they may create confusion among the Christian people and foster devotion of doubtful orthodoxy.

This is pretty vague (like most of the document), and I’m guessing was interpreted as a call for bare walls. I am not sure what the last line means or what it implies with regard to existing Churches, devotion to Saints, and subsequently teachings of the Church. I’ve never heard of any icons causing rampant devotion of doubtful orthodoxy.


I’d care. Personally, I don’t like the mimicry of the faux-1054 artistic style in which, for no good reason I can discern, they apparently just have to be painted, and frankly I don’t like the pretension of saying that an icon is “written.” Maybe Latin-rite sculptors should start saying that they dance their sculptures. :rolleyes:


they practically stripped our church back in the 70s. Fortunately we just complete a total renovation and the statues are back! our new altar art is a combination of sculpture and painting.


The Mother of Perpetual Help is the most famous Byzantine Icon in use in the Roman Catholic Church. I’ve also seen old churches that is just statue after statue of saints. The West just emphasized more on 3D statues while the East evolved their theology around icons.


One would have to intentionally choose to be disagreeable to spiritually equate “painting” an icon with properly writing one once they realized there was a distinction even if they did not actually understand the distinction. It’s not simply a matter of “pretense” as you suggest. I have no idea what you mean with your overtly rude “faux-1054 artistic style” as proper icons take on a great many forms and variations based on a great many variables so I’ll simply ignore it and you.


Or stained glass window after stained glass window of saints and biblical figures. :smiley:


When I served in the army and was stationed in Kosovo and Metohinja (Serbia), the Orthodox Church who we did a lot of work for and with told me that the reason statues are not common in the East is becuase statues were routinely made of the Greek gods. In fact there is only one statue in Kosovo in a monastery north of the Ibar River of Our Lady and the infant Jesus.

I can’t say for the use of icons in the Latin Churches, but I really respect and at times envy eastern spirituality. As for me, an icon of Our Lord and Lady made by the monks of Visoki Dečani hangs in veneration on the eastern wall of my dining room.


While I love iconography and their use in Eastern churches, and while they are increasingly being used in Latin churches, I believe that the Latin Rite should remain attached to its own traditions of sacred art, namely statues, frescoes, and paintings. I have seen certain Roman Rite parishes where icons have replaced statues and sacred art. This is akin to chanting Gregorian texts to Ruthenian tunes; it can be done beautifully, but it is not our tradition.


The Basilica of St. Paul is full of icons. I really like icons and statues. I think the most beautiful churches are the ones that have some of each.


I prefer icons. A year or so ago I went to the (Latin rite) Cologne basilica with my family as tourists. They asked me why I skipped all the statues and went to the one lone icon. Oh well, I just like icons and that one happened to be quite nice too.

No offence of course to the Latins here :stuck_out_tongue:

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