One of the most noticeable things about Orthodoxy is the predominance of icons. Icons are stylized pictures of Christ, Mary, the Saints, and events associated with the Life of Christ. They are venerated by the Orthodox like “photographs” of people they love. Icons give Orthodox Christians a vision of the spiritual world. Icon painters, although preferably artistically gifted, must work within prescribed rules when creating icons.
Icons exist for all of the major feasts of the church. Icons of Christ and of Mary and her Child are especially beloved by Orthodox Christians. The icon known as “The Hospitality of Abraham”, depicting the Patriarch Abraham’s visitation by three angelic beings, is the Orthodox iconic representation of The Trinity. Another important icon is “Mystical Supper”, a representation of the Eucharist as first instituted by Christ.
A visitor to an Orthodox Christian church will notice the use of candles and incense. Candles represent the Light of Christ, and incense is a physical representation of prayer and is used to honor God. The visitor will also see Orthodox Christians frequently making the “sign of the cross”, which marks them as followers of Jesus.