Today is the Feast Day of S. John of Damascus, the ‘Doctor of Christian Art.’ He was born in 645, the son of one of the few Christians left in Damascus under Arab rule. He became a monk, and composed many beautiful poems and songs in praise of God, most of them in Arabic (we
nicked borrowed the image from the Patron Saints Index.)
During John’s lifetime, the Church was deeply split over whether it was right to make ikons of Christ and the Saints. When asked why he wrote ikons of the Saints, John said, “Shall I not make images of friends?”
In a 1927 booklet called Anglo-Catholics: What They Believe, Leonard Prestige wrote this about the Saints:
“The Catholic Church is one great body here or hereafter, below or above… [The Saints] are still members of the one body, and their needs are therefore included in the prayers of the Church for all its members. But with them it seems more natural to lay the greater importance on the prayers they pray for the church than on the Church’s prayers for them. They can pray best as being nearest to Christ’s heart. Therefore we call upon them more particularly to pray to God for us.
They are our dear friends in Christ, though we have never seen them. We reverence them as the chosen vessels of God’s grace, and love them as the elder brethren of the family of Christ. We glory in their triumphs; we try to imitate their virtues. Some day we hope to be united to them, not by faith only, but by sight. Heaven is the home we share with Mary the blessed Mother, the glorious Apostles and Evangelists, the strong Martyrs, the pure Virgins. When we reach home they will be there, knit together with us in the one Spirit to the glorified Lamb in the inexpressible radiance and joy of the Father’s everlasting throne.”
We think it’s wonderful that the Saints are our friends. We also think it’s wonderful that our Home is in heaven, although we sincerely hope that S. Peter doesn’t put the Vicar in charge of housekeeping.
This Cartoon is by Dave Walker. He writes for the Church Times, but we don’t think you should hold that against him.