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Eastern Orthodoxy

Why do Orthodox Christians kiss icons?

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April 15, 2008 7:58PM

It is important to kiss holy icons or images, as this is a sign of respect, in the same way that we kiss a picture of our mother, father, husband, wife or children, to show the respect that we have for our loved ones. When we kiss a photo or picture of a family member or loved one, we are not woshipping them and we are not kissing the paper or wood or glass of the photo or frame. In the same way, when we kiss an icon of the holy saints, we are not kissing the physical material of the icon, but rather, we are showing respect and honour towards the person who is represented in the icon. Orthodox Christians often kiss, respect, venerate and honour icons, but they do not woship icons. Orthodox Christians only worship God. The Bible has many examples of how holy icons were used as an aid to worshipping God, even in Old Testament times. For example, when God commanded Moses to make images of cherubim angels for the Temple "In the Most Holy Place he made two cherubim..." (2Chronicles 3:10). So when we kiss an icon of our Lord Jesus Christ, it is as though we are kissing Christ Himself. Jesus does not condemn this practice, but rather sees it as an act of respect, just like He did with the sinful woman in the Bible: "You gave me no kiss, but this woman has not ceased to kiss my feet since the time I came in." (Luke 7:45)