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Icon; Ikon

(Gk. eikomn “image”). Traditionally very popular in the public and private worship of members of Orthodox Churches (e.g., in Greece and Russia), icons are flat images of Christ, the Virgin Mary, or a saint. They usually take the form of wooden pictures painted in oils; some have ornate decoration and some are made of ivory or in mosaic. Their usage may be traced back to the fifth century; during and after the Iconoclastic Controversy* in the eighth and ninth centuries it was much intensified. To the icons is given full veneration-genuflexions, incense, etc. They are believed to be the channel through which the divine blessing or healing comes to the faithful; for those who use them this view is confirmed by the stories of miracles associated with them—e.g., that of the Theotokos in the monastery of the Abramites at Constantinople. The Western Church has never widely used icons, but there is a famous one, that of Our Lady of Perpetual Succor at Rome.