Learn About the Icon of The Twelve Apostles – The Art of Belief Series

Learn About the Icon of The Twelve Apostles – The Art of Belief Series


Inspired by the documentary, PISTEVO, the Orthodox Christian Network will be featuring iconography and the Saints of the Orthodox Church.  Iconography, the centuries-old tradition of depicting faith through images, was the primary means of teaching Christianity until written records were formally canonized as the Holy Scriptures.  Please join us in raising awareness of iconography as a window into heaven &  finding and fostering one’s faith.

Learn About the Icon of The Twelve Apostles – The Art of Belief Series

Icon of the Holy Twelve Apostles

Source: A Reader’s Guide to Orthodox Icons

“During the life and ministry of Jesus in the first century AD, the apostles were His closest followers and became the primary teachers of the gospel message of Jesus”.  Interestingly, “the word “apostle” comes from the Greek word ἀπόστολος (apóstolos), formed from the prefix ἀπό- (apó-, “from”) and root στέλλω (stéllō, “I send”, “I depart”) and originally meaning “messenger, envoy”. It has, however, a stronger sense than the word messenger, and is closer to a “delegate”¹.

“The only sources on the subject of the Twelve Apostles are the four Gospels and the first chapter of the Acts, describing the relationship between Jesus and His Apostles during His ministry on earth”, explains the Rev. George Mastrantonis.

“The Orthodox Christian Network is privileged to be able to visit many churches and monasteries throughout the word and to share their stories with countless people”, said Father Chris Metropulos, President of Hellenic College Holy Cross & Founding Father of the Orthodox Christian Network.  “Everything about the Church is a teaching lesson but learning about the lives of the Saints and in this case the Saints lets us know that we are not alone and that others have traveled the path of a faith struggle before us.  As you review and witness the miracles of the icons that now adorn the walls of another church in this hemisphere I pray you will allow the Apostles to be a constant reminder of what our purpose is in life”.

In an excellent article, ‘How to Recognize the Holy Apostles in Icons’, “a brief description of how the Holy Apostles are depicted in Icons” is explained, “so that they can be more easily recognized when encountered in churches, monasteries, or wherever else an icon found” (source:  A Reader’s Guide to Orthodox Icons).  The Holy Apostles include St. Peter, St. Andrew, St. James (The Greater), St. John, St. Phillip, St. Bartholomew, St. Matthew, St. Thomas, St. James (The Lesser), St. Simon, St. Jude and Judas Iscariot (“the Apostles elected Matthias to replace him as one of the Twelve Apostles” after his death).

Rev. Mastrantonis helps us understand  “The Chosen Originators” – The Twelve Apostles by explaining “Jesus Christ endowed His Church with Himself and His divine Message. He handed it down to His disciples, who constituted His Church. Jesus Christ selected from among them Twelve Apostles to carry on with authority His Gospel, and He sent them to preach it and to baptize converts all over the world:

“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost; teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you; and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world” (Matt. 28: 19-20).

Moreover, he explains “the Apostles organized the converts into groups called Churches. To these Churches the Apostles handed down the treasure of the new Gospel, their eyewitness account of the Word as they actually saw it take place, preserving it forever through the Church. This is the Gospel – the Tradition in the broad sense of the word – which we cherish today. Taking the Truth from the Apostles, the Orthodox Church is an “Apostolic” Church; it has its roots in the apostolic ministry and succession, the apostolic faith and creed, and the apostolic word and scriptures by which the Apostles and their immediate successors defended the Orthodox Faith and kept it undefiled against heresies and persecutions.”

Partial List of Churches Named After the Apostles:


Please Share! – We Invite You to Share Your Faith & Icons

How Can You Get Involved?

1.  Share Your Favorite Saint(s) & Icons(s)

  • Take a photo of your favorite icon.
  • Write a few sentences of 30 words or less about your faith, the icon & the Saint’s significance in your life.

2.  Email the photo and text to:  InspiredbyPistevo@myocn.net 

  • We will notify you when your photo & text is uploaded to the Orthodox Christian Network web site (myocn.net) and Facebook page – – – and shared with millions worldwide!  We look forward to hearing from you.


Inspired by the documentary, PISTEVO & The Greek Orthodox Church of Our Saviour in Rye, New York, the Orthodox Christian Network is embarking on a major initiative to feature iconography and the Saints of the Orthodox Church over the next several months and years to come.  Please watch  PISTEVO – “I Believe”, and join us in raising awareness of iconography as a window to finding and fostering one’s faith.

We invite you to share your experiences as to how icons have fostered your faith.  Please post to the Orthodox Christian Network’s Facebook page or email us at InspiredByPistevo@myocn.net.


Iconography, the centuries-old tradition of depicting faith through images, was the primary means of teaching Christianity until written records were formally canonized as the Holy Scriptures. Yet even today, centuries later, iconography remains a spiritually powerful part of Orthodox Christian theology.  For many, the images enhance one’s ability to go deeper into the exploration and appreciation of their faith.

Click here to view an archive of all Saint and Iconography posts.


The independent documentary depicts a community coming together to complete the centuries-old mission of iconography led by Father Elias Villis at the Greek Orthodox Church of our Saviour in Rye, NY.

The epic film, PISTEVO, directed by  Director, Mark Brodie, and written and produced by Taryn Grimes Herbert,  expresses “why we honor the traditions of our theology and share our spiritual experience with the Orthodox world.”

Click here to visit The Art of Belief and watch the full length film – PISTEVO.

Posted by Nick Mavrick.  You can find Nick Mavrick on Google+

About author

Nick Mavrick

Nick Mavrick served on the OCN Board of Directors. The OCN Board consists of volunteers, who are also donors, and are passionate about giving back to the Orthodox Church. We welcome other volunteers to join us.