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An iconodule (from Neoclassical Greek εἰκονόδουλος eikonodoulos, "one who serves images"; also iconodulist or iconophile) is someone who espouses iconodulism, i.e., who supports or is in favor of religious images or icons and their veneration, and is in opposition to an iconoclast, someone against the use of religious images. The term is usually used in relation to the iconoclastic controversy in the Byzantine Empire; the most famous iconodules of that time being the Saints Theodore the Studite and John of Damascus.
The controversy was instigated by Byzantine Emperor Leo III in 726, when he ordered the removal of the image of Christ above the Chalke Gate of the imperial palace in Constantinople. A wider prohibition of icons followed in 730. St. John of Damascus argued successfully that to prohibit the use of icons was tantamount to denying the incarnation, the presence of the Word of God in the material world. Icons reminded the church of the physicality of God as manifested in Jesus Christ.
Veneration of icons was restored by the Second Council of Nicaea (Seventh Ecumenical Council) in 787. However this was met with opposition, in particular of Charlemagne. The last outburst of iconoclasm in the Byzantine Empire was overcome in 843, in an event celebrated as the Feast of Orthodoxy.
References and sources
- Barnard, Leslie William (1974). The Graeco-Roman and oriental background of the iconoclastic controversy. 5. BRILL. ISBN 90-04-03944-9.
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