Why Do Icons Feature the Sun, Moon and Stars?

The tradition of depicting stars and constellations in Christian art goes back to ancient times. We see their red flashes on the mysterious white vaults of the Roman catacombs; we meet the golden glow in the Ravenna mosaics of the 5th-6th centuries; we see bizarre grimaces of the celestial bodies on the parchments of Byzantine manuscripts, in the so-called “Cosmographs” describing the arrangement of the universe. We find images of zodiac signs in Christian basilicas of Europe of the 12th-13th centuries. In the 17th-century St. Elijah the Prophet Church in Yaroslavl, we can see a golden celestial sphere with symbols of constellations on the frescoes of the gallery vault, and the center of the universe is the place of confluence of the Kotorosl and the Volga.

Celestial bodies witnessed and even participated in the main events of Christian history. We can recall the star of the Nativity of Christ appearing before the magi (Matthew 2:9). Therefore, their images are harmoniously integrated into the corresponding scenes. Two discs of red and silver colors are almost always present in the scene of the Crucifixion on both sides of the cross. These are the signs of the sun and the moon. Both of these lights are also present in the scene of the Last Judgment, at the top, where the angels roll the heavens (Revelation 6:12-14).

An Orthodox Christian believes that it is God, not the stars, who governs his life. Therefore, the images of celestial bodies and even zodiac signs are only a reminder to us: the celestial bodies, created on the fourth day (Genesis 1:14-18), are called to praise the Lord together with the rest of the created world (Psalm 149:1-4), participate in the universal divine service, and obey the will of their Creator.

Translated by The Catalogue of Good Deeds
Source: https://foma.ru/pochemu-na-ikonah-izobrazhayut-solntse-lunu-i-zvezdyi.html

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The Editor of the Catalog of Good Deeds.

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