You are along the route: THE MIRACULOUS IMAGES. MERCY BECOMES ART
You will find all the places recommended on this itinerary open from Tuesday to Sunday. Should you decide to go on a Monday, you will not be able to see the icon Salus Populi Romani dei Gesuiti in the church of Sant’Andrea al Quirinale.
Icons are specific religious effigies painted on tablets which originate from the 5th century in the Byzantine era. The etymology of the term, from the Ancient Greek eikon, meaning “what appears”, helps us to understand the nature of these sacred representations, in which the image was to appear almost “miraculously” in front of the faithful at prayer. A fixed composition and rigid canonicity were thus to indispensable elements.
Their suggestive nature and evocative power were such as to generate the iconoclasm, a political-religious movement of violent reaction to the cult of icons, which was believed to be a serious form of idolatry, in the mid-8th century. This hostility, which arose in the Byzantine Empire, became an actual war, involving the destruction of a significant number of sacred representations and artistic masterpieces.
After the long period of iconoclasm, in 843, the images once again became a reference point for the religious life of the communities of believers, also in Rome. Tradition contains innumerable prodigious episodes in which they are the protagonists as the bringers of mercy and pardon and the source of salvation and healing powers.
In the sixteenth century, in protestant Europe, there was a new aversion towards paintings and statutes depicting Jesus, the Madonna or the Saints, as well as relics and spades. Their cult, believed to be a manifestation of superstition, became the symbol of the corruption and idolatry of the Catholic Church.
Thus, while the churches of the Reformation were being stripped of images and ornaments icons retained their importance in Rome and in the Catholic world. Passed down through the centuries or imitations of the ancient prototypes, perpetuating their sacred fixed composition, they continued to conquer the faithful, acquiring the status of miraculous images.