The Mystical Icon of our Holy Church--the Ark of Salvation--is taken from a 17th Century prototype found at the monastery of Zographou on Mt. Athos, Greece. In the middle the Church is symbolized as an Ark with Christ at the helm holding the rudder. The Rudder in the Orthodox Church is the book which contains the Holy Canons which directs the Church in the proper mode of conduct and confession of Faith. Inside the Ark is the Most-holy Virgin Mary, and in front of her are the four Evangelists, John, Matthew, Mark and Luke. At the bow of the ship are Peter and Paul, holding the anchor, which is shaped in a three pronged end, signifying belief in the Holy Trinity. Behind them are the Holy Fathers of the Church, Saint John Chrysostom, St. Gregory the Theologian, St. Basil the Great, St. Athanasios of Alexandria, and St. Nicholas of Myra, with multitudes of other holy Fathers, and Mothers, Martyrs, etc., etc., as signified by the many halos. This all symbolizes the bosom of the Church, both triumphant and militant (i.e. in heaven and on earth).
On the bottom of the icon are the enemies of Christ and His Church; that is, all who have fought against Her and persecuted Her, for if one fights against the Church, he is fighting against Christ. From left to right, Antichrist is depicted as a king on his horse and behind him is an old man with a crown on his head, signifying Israel with the star of David on his crown, holding a bag of gold. He has his arm around the harlot of the Apocalypse, with her cup in her hand. Below Antichrist are those who will fight for him. Antichrist is going to come from Jewish lineage, and will reign in Jerusalem and will want all to submit to him. Those who do not will be persecuted. This is the symbolism of those who are under the caption called Antichrist and his Minions.
Next to him to the right is a dreadful looking beast, which is called New Age. New Age is a revival of paganism presented with new packaging. It encompasses the occult, which has absolutely no reverence for Christ.
Next to him is a king on a horse, with a drawn sword in his hand and he is labeled The Persecuting Rulers. Throughout the history of the Church, kings, emperors, governors, etc., have abused their power either by trying to destroy the Church, or by reaching into the realm of the Church to govern it themselves, which is forbidden to them. The Church is governed only by the bishops.
Next to him is one example, the Emperor Julian the Apostate, who has a spear in his hand, ready to throw it at the Ark.
Next to him is Luther, with a rifle, ready to shoot. Luther, of course, rebelled against papal abuses, but instead of going back to the Orthodox Church, created his new church, which is properly named not after Christ, but after him. This man symbolizes all of Protestantism which followed his bad example.
Next to him on the bottom right side is a great beast, Hades, with an open mouth and in his mouth is Mohammed with a drawn bow and arrow directed at the Church. Islam has subjugated the Church in the East since the 8th century.
Above him is the Pope, with a long, hooked rod, trying to pull down the bow, either to capsize the boat or redirect it in a direction contrary to the direction that Christ is steering the Ark. When the present day papacy came into being around the year 1054, the pope proclaimed himself as the vicar of Christ and also Christ on earth, thus fighting against the true Christ.
Next to him is Eutyches, the heresiarch who would not accept the decision of the 4th and 5th Ecumenical Councils that Christ has two natures: Christ is both perfect God and perfect man. Eutyches divided the Church with his followers who believed that Christ had only one nature. Therefore, he is depicted with a pointed cowl on his head, which is what the Monophysites wear to this day. Monophysites include the Copts of Egypt, and the Armenians, who are located around Palestine. Behind Eftyches is depicted the demon of the Monophysites and Monothelites.
Next above him is the "Orthodox" Patriarch of Constantinople, Athenagoras, the father of modern day Ecumenism. He also has a hooked rod, trying to redirect the path of the Church. He was a 32 degree Mason, and behind him is the demon of Masonry. Masons embrace all peoples and faiths into their religion. Ecumenism accepts all religions with a desire to create a one world religion. An Orthodox bishop cannot accept Ecumenism. It is the heresy of all heresies. Because these "Orthodox" bishops accepted the false belief of all religions, not only heretical Christianity, but also Judaism and Islam, saying that "we all worship the same god", just as Masonry tries to do, they are not Orthodox, and in fact fight against the Church.
Out of the need for "full disclosure" I am a practicing Orthodox and Traditional Roman Catholic and I still really like this Icon!
Without entering into any internecine and convoluted history involved in all the myriad particulars involved in Christian History---I really appreciate and like this Icon.
Yes, there is an image of a "pope" shooting at the Arc of the Holy Orthodox Church. With a magananimity, open-mindedness and ecumenical love I embrace this depiction even as a Roman Catholic.
The various insidious attackers depicted shooting at and trying to undermine and sink Christ and all Christians through the thousands of years of Christian (and world) history are depicted in a very clear way here.
I like this Icon and the images of the ongoing war we are in on earth. The forces of evil are all around the "Arc of Christ" with all their wicked fury.
Despite the their attacks on Christ--all the enemies of Christ have been defeated eternally and this is depicted in a beatiful way in this Icon.
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