In Eastern Christian belief, the icon is not merely a depiction of a holy figure; it transmits the light of God, captivating and otherworldly.
I have always been drawn to Christian religious imagery. I remember from a young age being taken by depictions of martyrdom and divinity, rendered in deep, striking hues, illuminated and golden; crimson blood on pale bodies, soft, angelic faces, scenes of chaos lit by a single beam, the gentle gaze of Virgin nursing the child Christ, her gentle tears with the dead body of her son in her arms. I was baptised and grew up around religion, and for a long time tried to reconcile the powerful reaction I felt to representations with a genuine need for faith in my life, or belief in a higher power. But that need just never came. I've realised that I don't believe in God; I believe in the strength and compassion of the people around me.
I'm still not sure exactly what I feel when I see these images, whether it be sympathy, artistic admiration or simply aesthetic satisfaction. But now I'm sure it's not the light of God.