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Read the daily quote from Pope Francis


Nave Window 5

We move to the Seventh Ecumenical Council held at Nicea in 787 under Pope Adrian I.  Against the Iconoclasts, or image breakers of that day, the Council proclaimed that sacred images are to be venerated (sanctas imagines esse venerandas.)

Pagans, Jews and even some Christians had objected to the Christian practice of venerating images, calling it idolartry.  The emperor Leo III and his son Constantine Copronymus ordered the destruction of images of Our Lord, the Blessed Mother and the Saints.  When Irene became regent for her son, Constantine VII, she asked the Pope to call an Ecumenical Council to condemn Iconoclasm (image breaking.)

The design shows an image, broken and repaired, i.e. broken by the Iconoclasts and repaired by the Council.  The synodal letters of the Pope, again the guide for the Council's action, engulf the symbols of iconoclasm, namely the hammer, club and fire, to destroy them.

Since Princess Irene initiated the Council, the sword with her crown forms background for the scene.  Her sword is the center bar of a scale.  The Council restored justice, proclaiming the proper use of images.  On the right balance of the scale is the surviving Church, symbolized by the tiara and crosier of the Pope, which is victorius over Iconoclasm, represented on the left balance by the crown (of Leo and Copronymus), the sword and skull.

The inclined mitre below represents the Bishops who actually fell into heresy by signing with Copronymus the edict condemning as idolatry the honoring of images.

As we move to the windows on the west side of the Church, we take cognizance of the fact that succeeding Councils were all held in the West, Europe.  We meet first.