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icons level christ archangels

An iconostasis is a screen of *icons separating the nave and sanctuary in Orthodox churches. Screens or low balustrades separating clergy from congregration were found in early Christian churches and are the basis for this form, which was increasingly elaborated in Byzantine architecture. The physical separation symbolizes the division of the earthly and heavenly realms; the iconostasis symbolically unites the two realms and follows a specific program of hierarchically positioned images. In fully developed form (e.g., by the thirteenth century), the iconostasis will be multitiered with three doors on the lowest level (the central “Royal Door” leads into the sanctuary where the Eucharist is celebrated). Icons of *Christ, the Virgin *Mary, archangels, and the *Four Evangelists will be found on this level; sometimes an icon of the *saint to whom the church is dedicated or icons of local saints will be placed here as well. The top level of icons will exhibit Old Testament *patriarchs, followed by a level of *prophets, followed by a row of icons representing the major holy days celebrating events in the life of Christ and the Virgin. Below this, a *Deësis group (Christ with Mary and Saint *John the Baptist) is traditional, flanked by icons of archangels, *apostles, and saints. Iconostases may also be small, portable, folding screens used for prayer in private homes.
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