St. Photios on Icons

St. Photios the Great ca. 810-891

Christ has come to us in the flesh and was borne in the arms of His Mother: This is seen and confirmed and proclaimed in pictures, the teaching made clear through seeing it with our own eyes, and impelling the spectator to unhesitating assent. Does a man hate the teaching through pictures? Then how has he not previously rejected and hated the message of the Gospels? Just as speech is transmitted by hearing, so a form by the faculty of sight is imprinted upon the tablets of the soul, giving those whose apprehension is not soiled by wicked doctrines, a representation of knowledge in accordance with piety… The Virgin is holding the Creator in her arms as an infant. Who is that upon seeing this or hearing it, will not be astonished by the magnitude of the mystery and will not rise up to laud the ineffable condescension which surpasses all words? …Has the mind seen? Has it grasped? Has it visualized? Then it has easily transmitted the forms of the memory. (Patriarch Photios of Constantinople. His Life, Scholarly Contributions, and Correspondence Together with a Translation of Fifty-Two of His Letters, by Despina S. White pp.91-92)