For Christians of the Eastern Orthodox Churches the first mention of an Icon in the Bible is right at the beginning – Genesis 1: 26 - when God made man in his own image (eikon). Icons are usually painted (or ‘written’) directly onto wood. They are visible images representing heavenly beings and eternal truths. For centuries Icons in the East (like Stained Glass Windows in the West) have helped the illiterate to learn from, and be lifted by, Biblical teaching.
The colours used in each icon are significant. Colours have the same substance as words.
Icons are not objects of worship. Rather, like a lense in a camera, they help the faithful focus on the divine reality behind and surrounding our earthly life. These beautiful and elaborate paintings are described as "windows into the kingdom of God", their primary purpose being to enable a face-to-face encounter with a holy person or make present a sacred event.
Icons are painted in a way that is designed to be timeless - those who write icons must follow strict rules, ensuring that the image remains constant and consistent no matter in which decade, which century or in which country the icon was written.
The icon of Mother and child in the Lady Chapel was given to St Nicholas’ Church in 1987 by Barbara Harding in memory of her mother, Clara May Harris. Barbara herself died, as this guide was being prepared, on 5th December 2014.
The two Icons on the doorway of the Lady Chapel and the five icons on the Organ loft balcony were given to St Nicholas’ Church by The Thoupos Family – Carlo, Andy, and Maria - in memory of their parents Neophytos (Fred) and Kalliopi (Kay) Thoupos. The Thoupos family came to Canvey Island from London in 1947. Ten years earlier Fred had left his young family in Cyprus to seek better fortune in England. For many years they ran the Beach House Hotel and Caravan Park in Canvey Island where Beach House Gardens now is. Neophytos died on 30th December 1970. Kalliopi died on All Souls’ Day, 2nd November 2003.
May the Souls of the Faithful Departed
Rest in Peace and Rise in Glory
A Guide to the Icons can be purchased from St Nicholas' for a cost of £1.50.