Icons have been a part of the Russian Orthodox faith for thousands of years as a physical expression of worship.
They’ve been displayed at churches, carried into battle and each iron has been publicly revered at times by hundreds, sometimes thousands. Many depict the Virgin Mary and most portray saints and martyrs with halos around their heads.
The style of the icon is said to tell a story about the subject in it.
Many icons are made of wood and some with fabric are encased partly in metallic overlaps, sometimes with many different metals. They often have religious figures at the corners with the saint in the middle. Many symbolically have three figures, a popular number for Orthodox and Christian symbolism.
The Holy Trinity Orthodox Church in Stroud Township, serving an eastern European Orthodox congregation at 1501 Trinity Court in Stroudsburg under the Rev. Nichoas Solak, is hosting an extensive display of dozens of icons dating back to the 13th century and relics as old as 200 B.C. today from 1 to 4 p.m. and Sunday from 1 to 3 p.m.
Also on display are vestments and elaborate mitres in two opposite corners of the church. Solak points out that the bishops did not wear pectoral crosses over their vestments until Russian Tsar Nicholas II awarded silver crosses to priests. He had mistakenly got off his horse and went to a deacon for a blessing, which he could not do, and was embarrassed to learn that the religious was not a priest.
Solak encourages people of all faiths to come and witness the spiritually uplifting of the current display.
The exhibit currently is on display at Marywood University in Scranton from the Monastery of Tikhon of Zadonsk in South Canaan, and some of it is on loan to the Holy Trinity Church The monastery, opened in 1905, encompasses wooded property of more than 100 acres where visitors can come for the day or arrange to stay as guests.
“This is only a very small part of the icons they have at Tikhon,” said Solak, whose role as a high priest in the order encouraged the loan to the church. Solak concelebrated with four other religious at a special service at St. Tikhon's Monastery on Memorial Day of 2013.
Holy Trinity, which had a ceremonial “mortgage burning” in the spring after opening in 1996, hosted in late February the Kursk-Root Icon, a world renowned icon originating in the 13th century, in late February of 2014. Miracles and healings have been attributed by the faithful to the icon, which is associated with the great historical trials and wars of the Russian people.
Although the icon is known by many of the faithful for its miracles and healing ability, Solak said it is more a spiritual experience of prayers by the faithful petitioning for their intentions.
The roots of the Russian Orthodox religion are in the Slavic Church that includes the Russian Cyrillic script. But the Russian Orthodox Church allowed its church in America its own self-governance in 1976, coincidentally the year of the American bicentennial.
It differs from the Greek Orthodox Church in America, which remains affiliated with the main church in Greece.