• Mary Jane Miller

What is an ICONOSTASIS ?

Updated: Jul 4


The altar is where we come to perform a ritual, to honor something which is greater than ourselves. Themed on religion, an altarpiece refers to a piece of artwork, placed on or behind the altar of a Christian Church. It stands like a frame behind the altar for the purpose of education and adornment Architectural structure of the  ICONOSTASIS

The classic architectural feature found in most Orthodox Churches of Western Europe is traditionally called an iconostasis. It is a wall covered by icons situated to separate the sanctuary from the sacred nave where the priest communes with God directly. The iconostasis is the unbroken wall of multiple icons layered in tiers, from floor to ceiling, stacked in layers one upon another. It is beautiful biblical history in pictures, available to the community for meditation and prayer. The wall or screen that separates the holy of holies or mystical location for the priest who dialogues with God is reserved for his transformation. These icon screens have affected Christian spirituality for the past 1,500 years. The Sanctuary  behind the Iconostasis

The sanctuary is the physical place where congregates gather to sit or stand before the iconostasis. The space behind the screen in a byzantine church interior is called the nave and symbolizes saced space. The relationship between the two is symbiotic; the visible world (physical) enlightened by the invisible (spiritual).

Eighteen years of practice in this Christian spirituality, I find the foundation and sound teaching to be perfect but only slightly outdated. The separation between us and them, the priest and the congregation , the dive space and the rest of the world seems outdated. This attitude is an outgrowth of modern and unorthodox creativity perhpas frowned on by those of the Orthodox community.

I am a Christian, and seek to honor all people throughout history who seek to know truth, beauty, peace and love. I believe in our ” the potential”, and creative capacity for knowing a higher, more knowledgeable order which is inherent in all human life and it is everywhere.


We have to ask again, what is an ICONOSTASIS?


Since childhood, I have always felt the presence of something “other”and it is to this presence that I dedicate my exploration for what else can be found in the biblical story. This “other” has driven me to see women need to be included at all the major feast days, that the church can no longer serve only the chosen, that the wall between us needs to be better understood if we are all to become divine likeness. Love is the core message and I want to see more of that illustrated in the iconostasis, with doors open and all divine space accessible.

#Iconostasis, architecture, byzantine church interior, mary jane miller, holy of holies, scared space



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