The Icon of the Divine Heart of God the Father – 12

Critical Review: Part 2 – The Council of Moscow and Nicaea II

The Council of Moscow of 1553-1554 (Anatolius, 1945; Bingham, 1995; Ouspensky, 1992) was the second of the three Councils held by the Orthodox Church, after the Great Schism (Fortescue, 1912). As previously outlined, in the Council of Moscow (Anatolius, 1945; Bingham, 1995; Ouspensky, 1992) the members – once again led by St Makarii – explicitly decreed that icons of God the Father could indeed be depicted; either independently or as part of the Holy Trinity. They specified such icons as fully in keeping with tradition – particularly Athonite tradition – and added that, “the painters do not represent the Godhead invisible according to His essence, but they portray and represent according to the prophetic visions and the ancient Greek models.” The Council members also condemned all attempts to regard icons of God the Father as ‘Latinized heresies,’ regardless of the origin of such attempts and whether the Father was depicted alone or as part of the Trinity.

Insofar as Nicaea II (Second Council of Nicaea, 787/1969; The Seventh General Council, 787/2007) is concerned, the decrees of the Council of Moscow of 1553-1554 (Anatolius, 1945; Bingham, 1995; Ouspensky, 1992) are in perfect conformity with Nicaea II, in relation to depicting God the Father iconographically. Moreover the decrees of this Council are similarly in keeping with those of both Stoglav (Council of Moscow, 1551) and Trent (1545-1563/1848), as well as the work of St John of Damascus (c. 730, 726-730/1898) previously discussed. Said conformity, in fact, exists clearly despite the strong, repeated attempts of some clergy, iconographers and theologians to interpret the proceedings of this particular Council (Anatolius, 1945; Bingham, 1995; Ouspensky, 1992) in a revisionist manner, due to their Neo-Patristic leanings.


  • Anatolius, Archpriest. (1945). On the painting of icons. Moscow: Author.
  • Bingham, S. (1995). The image of God the Father in Orthodox theology and iconography and other studies. CA: Oakwood.
  • Council of Moscow. (1551). Moscow: Russkaia Pravoslavnaia Tserkov. Retrieved October 4, 2011 from University of Michigan Microfilms.
  • Fortescue, A. (1912). The Eastern Schism. In The Catholic Encyclopedia (2nd ed.). NY: Appleton. Retrieved September 30, 2011 from New Advent:
  • John of Damascus. (c. 730). Concerning images. In De fide orthodoxa, Bk IV, ch. 16.
  • John of Damascus. (726-730/1898). On holy images (M. H. Allies, trans.)London: Baker.
  • Ouspensky, L. (1992). Theology of the icon, Vols. I & II (rev. trans.). NY: St Vladimir’s Seminary Press.
  • Second Council of Nicaea. (787/1969). In The Seven Ecumenical Councils of the undivided Church: Their canons and dogmatic decrees.Nicene and post-Nicene Fathers, 2nd series, Vol. XIV. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.
  • The Council of Trent: The canons and decrees of the sacred and oecumenical Council of Trent. (1545-1563/1848; J. Waterworth, ed. & trans.). London: Dolman.
  • The Seventh General Council: The second of Nicaea, held A. D. 787, in which the worship of images was established. (787/2007; J. Mendham, trans.). Whitefish, MT: Kessinger.