Question: Can I kiss icons during the coronavirus epidemic?
Answer: There is no sin in the fact that a person is afraid of getting infected, because this is a natural and completely justified fear. Another thing is that some of our fears take the form of panic horror.
There are a huge number of viruses in the world, and a considerable number of them cause diseases that can, under certain conditions, lead to death of a person. But this knowledge does not cancel communication with each other and does not make most people panic. Another thing is epidemics, when a person succumbs to the general mood and begins to be afraid of everything. This is the way things are and will always be. People easily give in to the common mood. And if one person can overcome his fears, then in a situation when panic spreads among his environment, whether it’s real or virtual, it’s hard to keep calm.
The tradition of kissing icons is quite ancient. In this way, we show our reverence for God and the saints depicted in these icons. This is a pious tradition, but no one obliges a Christian to kiss icons, especially if there is a fear of becoming infected during an epidemic.
Icons are regularly wiped and most often this is done with a special alcohol-containing liquid. But, if you have concerns, you can take a clean handkerchief with you, soak it in a disinfectant and wipe the icon, before kissing it, there is nothing forbidden in it. There is also the possibility to temporarily abandon this custom for the duration of the epidemic.
I add that not only isolated cases of healing and cessation of epidemics are associated with many miraculous images. For example, the Shuiskaya-Smolenskaya icon was painted during the epidemic, and by the veneration of this image the disease stopped. And in general, it is worth remembering that God has care for each of us and such an important moment as a serious disease will not happen without God’s permission.
Therefore, there is no obligation to kiss the icons, and in many ways the practice of your behavior in this regard depends on your faith: if you sincerely believe that nothing will happen and you are calm, then kiss icons with prayer to God, the Mother of God and saints, pray also for the deliverance of the world from the epidemic; if you are afraid and cannot overcome your fear, do not be confused by this. Just bow to the holy image, or if you want, touch it with your forehead, or just pray next to it about your needs and that the Lord will help us all to overcome the misfortune that has now come into the world.
God bless you!
Translated by The Catalogue of Good Deeds