Show me your favorite Iconostasis

The Liturgist

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I often have posted photographs of churches I particularly love. I have a large collection of photos of iconostases that I think are stunning, which I thought about sharing, but I would rather see some of your favorites first, and then I will share some of mine, and in this manner we shall maximize our exposure to the glorious beauty of the Orthodox temples around the world and the icons that make them such special places of worship, to the extent where I feel a dreadful empty sensation if I am forced for any reason to enter into a Protestant church that lacks a suitable number of icons or is iconoclastic.
 
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The Liturgist

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I love the one at St Tikhon’s Monastery Church, said with extreme bias.

Did you go there Father, to the St. Tikhon’s Seminary? I know two other priests I really like who went there, and one who went to SVS, who was in the Antiochian Orthodox Church, but is ethnically Assyrian and left, largely because he was assigned to a parish in Alaska and his family lives in California and he could not handle the cold, and the Assyrian Church of the East offered him a better job, and i am very sympathetic to his particular situation, although I think he made a mistake in getting ordained with the Antiochians, but it was his hope to get ordained with them in order to help facilitate ecumenical reconciliation and also serve the small number of Aramaic speaking Antiochians. I also know a deacon in the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church. Strangely, I am not well acquainted with any current Eastern Orthodox priests who went to SVS; all of my friends either went to St. Tikhon’s or Holy Cross or else went to a non-Orthodox seminary or to a seminary in the Old Country, for example, there is a Romanian Orthodox priest in Las Vegas who went to the Theological Faculty in Bucharest.

By the way, I watch the services at St. Tikhon’s every Sunday via live streaming. The liturgy is consistently excellent. The only thing I am curious about is, being a seminary and a male monastery, where do they get all those wonderful women for the choir? From the people who attend it looks as though STM kind of functions as a parish church for the local community.
 
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The Liturgist

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Actually, i just remembered, I know an Antiochian priest who is currently serving who went to SVS rather than St. Tikhon’s. However, to my knowledge I’ve never met anyone who went to St. Herman’s. But I once met in Chico, California, a very nice OCA priest in the late 1990s, and I have wondered if he is still alive and where he went to seminary, and so on.
 
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Chesterton

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This is at Holy Archangels Monastery in Texas. The pictures don't really do it justice, but all the wood is hand-carved, and when you're standing up close to it, the intricate, detailed carvings of all the figures are really stunning. Can't imagine the time and effort that went into making it. The whole sanctuary is magnificent.

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ArmyMatt

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Did you go there Father, to the St. Tikhon’s Seminary? I know two other priests I really like who went there, and one who went to SVS, who was in the Antiochian Orthodox Church, but is ethnically Assyrian and left, largely because he was assigned to a parish in Alaska and his family lives in California and he could not handle the cold, and the Assyrian Church of the East offered him a better job, and i am very sympathetic to his particular situation, although I think he made a mistake in getting ordained with the Antiochians, but it was his hope to get ordained with them in order to help facilitate ecumenical reconciliation and also serve the small number of Aramaic speaking Antiochians. I also know a deacon in the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church. Strangely, I am not well acquainted with any current Eastern Orthodox priests who went to SVS; all of my friends either went to St. Tikhon’s or Holy Cross or else went to a non-Orthodox seminary or to a seminary in the Old Country, for example, there is a Romanian Orthodox priest in Las Vegas who went to the Theological Faculty in Bucharest.

By the way, I watch the services at St. Tikhon’s every Sunday via live streaming. The liturgy is consistently excellent. The only thing I am curious about is, being a seminary and a male monastery, where do they get all those wonderful women for the choir? From the people who attend it looks as though STM kind of functions as a parish church for the local community.
yep, that’s where I went. The ladies who sing are often the seminarian wives.
 
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The Liturgist

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Splendid. This iconostasis ticks all of the boxes I look for in a contemporary Orthodox (or Eastern Catholic*) iconostasis, which include icons traditional to our rite, Holy Doors, sometimes called Royal Doors (my understanding, and if I have been misled on ths point -let me know, that technically the term Royal Doors historically referred to the entrance to the Nave from the Narthex opposite the Holy Doors), which when closed highly obscure the view of the interior of the altar, but not completely, so that one can also tell when the curtain has been closed, since the rubrics specify at times the Holy Doors are to be closed but the curtain is to remain open. When it comes to the Deacons’ Doors, I like both the variety shown here, that when closed, seem to disappear, and also the variety that is more obvious, sometimes even featuring porthole-shaped windows as a safety precaution.

*For some reason, recent Eastern Catholic and Greek Orthodox iconostases often eliminate the liturgical curtains and sometimes even the Holy Doors, which I dislike, because I regard the closing and opening of the curtain and the Holy Doors to be an essential and dramatic part of the liturgy, something one also sees in the Oriental Orthodox liturgies (except for the Coptic, oddly enough, since their iconostases is closest to ours, but their use of the curtain is limited to opening it at the start of the service and closing it at the end, which I find unsatisfying except during what we call Bright Week, the first week after Pascha) and also in the Assyrian liturgy. For example, in the Syriac Orthodox, Armenian and East Syriac liturgical rites the curtain will inevitably be closed during the prayers of vesting and the prothesis, and also during the Fraction and sometimes the communion of the clergy, and occasionally at a few other times in the Syriac Orthodox liturgy. I regard the Eastern Orthodox rubrics concerning the opening and closing of the curtain and the doors to be extremely important.

I suspect that before the modern iconostasis appeared, when the Templon as used at Hagia Sophia was standard, the curtain wrapped around the templon allowing for the view inside of it to be obscured (except perhaps from above, but only at Hagia Sophia; also if I recall they had such a large choir and so many deacons, that they, along with the Emperor and his attendants, would have occupied all of the balcony areas that might be able to see into the Templon if its curtains were closed). This is of course hypothetical, but i am mistrustful of those who insist the early church was more liturgically open than the church of today; we know this was not the case in terms of the dismissal of catechumens, penitents, energumens and hearers, and we know they regarded keeping unauthorized persons out of the nave as something very important, since doorkeepers actually ranked above exorcists in the minor orders. i also love that in the early church exorcism was viewed as something the most junior members of Holy Orders could normally handle, as opposed to what we see in the Roman Catholic Priest at present where exorcism is handled by an elite class of priests; it suggests to me that the strength of the faith of the early church, which was like gold tested in the fire of the Diocletian persecutions and those before it, was so intense, and it also brings to mind the vision one of the Desert Fathers had while sleeping, of two monks from his day soaring above the ground effortlessly, and another monk from the future just barely remaining aloft and with great difficulty, which if I recall is in the Arena of St. Ignatius Brianchaninov.
 
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The Liturgist

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that’s not an iconostasis (lovely as it is)

Indeed, its a triptych altarpiece. Not technically reredos, I don’t think, but similiar, but if I recall reredos should be attached to the wall behind the altar table in a Western church. That said @JM thank you for sharing that anyway as it is a splendid example of Western iconography.

Specifically an iconostasis separates an altar from the nave, similar to a rood screen or chancel screen. They are primarily used in Eastern Orthodox, Byzantine Rite Catholic, Coptic Orthodox and (the small minority of) Coptic Catholic churches, and also some Ethiopian and Syriac Orthodox churches have iconostases or structures similiar to them, and some Coptic Orthodox churches likewise have these structures, where icons are consolidated on pilars with a larger curtained opening located where the Holy Doors are in Eastern Orthodoxy. However the majority of Coptic Orthodox iconostases follow the Eastern Orthodox plan and differ only in that they usually lack doors and only have curtains (I have seen a handful of very old Eastern Orthodox churches that were like this as well).

The iconostasis itself as a concept developed from the Templon, which was somewhat like a chancel screen, only usually three sided, surrounding the altar at the Hagia Sophia. New Skete Monastery, which has an unusual typikon some aspects of which I love and others of which I do not (but part of the beauty of Orthodoxy is the freedom of monasteries to develop their typikon as they see fit, within reason), has a Templon at their monastery based on the historic templon that once existed at Hagia Sophia (as reconstructed by historians, archaeologists, liturgical researchers and so on).
 
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The Liturgist

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Dewi Sant

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The high/late medieval western analogue to the iconostasis, the 'rood screen', bears a passing resemblance to those in the Christian east, and I have been searching for a nice example to post here however they do seem quite different beasts.
Though many churches in East Anglia maintain their old screens, the main part of them is open tracery. Where images of the saints appear, they are in panels which are below waist height and so impractical for veneration.
Images of the Apostles and the Angels typically appear on the Rood Loft, again, quite out of reach for veneration, though I do see this arrangement (in addition to veneration images) in Orthodox iconostases.
I quite enjoy the idea of the Roof Loft being used as a platform for preaching, with candles being lit at the foot of the cross (Holy Rood) on certain feasts.
St Mary's Church, Worstead, Norfolk England

reconstructed rood loft of St. Teilo's church [a rural small church] as it appeared in 16th century, Llandeilo, Carmarthenshire
 
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Dewi Sant

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The pictures don't really do it justice, but all the wood is hand-carved, and when you're standing up close to it, the intricate, detailed carvings of all the figures are really stunning. Can't imagine the time and effort that went into making it. The whole sanctuary is magnificent.
really wonderful!
I do wonder though whether the tradition of hand carving is going to remain with us as we definitely have the means now with advances in technology to achieve something similar with programmable CNC routing machines.
 
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The Liturgist

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The high/late medieval western analogue to the iconostasis, the 'rood screen', bears a passing resemblance to those in the Christian east, and I have been searching for a nice example to post here however they do seem quite different beasts.
Though many churches in East Anglia maintain their old screens, the main part of them is open tracery. Where images of the saints appear, they are in panels which are below waist height and so impractical for veneration.
Images of the Apostles and the Angels typically appear on the Rood Loft, again, quite out of reach for veneration, though I do see this arrangement (in addition to veneration images) in Orthodox iconostases.
I quite enjoy the idea of the Roof Loft being used as a platform for preaching, with candles being lit at the foot of the cross (Holy Rood) on certain feasts.
St Mary's Church, Worstead, Norfolk England's Church, Worstead, Norfolk England

reconstructed rood loft of St. Teilo's church [a rural small church] as it appeared in 16th century, Llandeilo, Carmarthenshire's church [a rural small church] as it appeared in 16th century, Llandeilo, Carmarthenshire


Indeed these are beautiful and it is my hope that as Western Rite Orthodoxy grows (hopefully by absorbing some Continuing Anglican jurisdictions that are Anglo Catholic to the point of enumerating seven sacraments, so we mainly just have to talk them out of the filioque), such rood screens will become increasingly accessible to Christians in the West.
 
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JM

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Indeed, its a triptych altarpiece. Not technically reredos, I don’t think, but similiar, but if I recall reredos should be attached to the wall behind the altar table in a Western church. That said @JM thank you for sharing that anyway as it is a splendid example of Western iconography.

Specifically an iconostasis separates an altar from the nave, similar to a rood screen or chancel screen. They are primarily used in Eastern Orthodox, Byzantine Rite Catholic, Coptic Orthodox and (the small minority of) Coptic Catholic churches, and also some Ethiopian and Syriac Orthodox churches have iconostases or structures similiar to them, and some Coptic Orthodox churches likewise have these structures, where icons are consolidated on pilars with a larger curtained opening located where the Holy Doors are in Eastern Orthodoxy. However the majority of Coptic Orthodox iconostases follow the Eastern Orthodox plan and differ only in that they usually lack doors and only have curtains (I have seen a handful of very old Eastern Orthodox churches that were like this as well).

The iconostasis itself as a concept developed from the Templon, which was somewhat like a chancel screen, only usually three sided, surrounding the altar at the Hagia Sophia. New Skete Monastery, which has an unusual typikon some aspects of which I love and others of which I do not (but part of the beauty of Orthodoxy is the freedom of monasteries to develop their typikon as they see fit, within reason), has a Templon at their monastery based on the historic templon that once existed at Hagia Sophia (as reconstructed by historians, archaeologists, liturgical researchers and so on).
A local Anglican parish has a rood screen.
 
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Chesterton

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really wonderful!
I do wonder though whether the tradition of hand carving is going to remain with us as we definitely have the means now with advances in technology to achieve something similar with programmable CNC routing machines.
IS OUTRAGE! Was it programmable CNC routing machines in 19th century Russia?!
 
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