It is celebrated 42 days before Holy Easter.
This holy day is special, because despite the oppressive climate of Great Lent, our Orthodoxy, the true Church of Christ, celebrates brilliantly. We are commemorating the crowning event of our church history, the restoration of the holy icons, which occurred in 843 AD. in Byzantium, thanks to the decisive contribution of the queen and later saint Theodora, wife of the emperor Theophilus (840 – 843 AD).
We refer to the great iconoclastic controversy, which literally shook our Church for more than a hundred years. In 726 AD the emperor Leo III Isaurus (717 – 741 AD) decided to bring radical reforms to the state. One of them was the prohibition of veneration of holy images, because, taking occasion from certain extreme phenomena of iconoclasm, he believed that the Christian faith deviated into idolatry. In essence, however, he was expressing his own unimaginative views, which were deeply influenced by the unimaginative Jewish and Islamic faith.
The turmoil was unimaginable. The empire was divided into two fiercely warring factions, the iconoclasts and the iconoclasts. The persecutions are terrible. Great paternal figures undertook to defend the orthodox faith. In 787 AD the 7th Ecumenical Council was convened, which precisely formulated the honor due to holy icons. It also clarified other difficult points of the Christian faith, so that we have a complete crystallization of the Orthodox doctrine and we can talk about the triumph of our Orthodoxy.
The icon in our Orthodoxy is not an object of worship, but functions exclusively as a means of honoring the depicted person. Even Christ can be pictured, because he became man. In fact, anyone who denies the iconography of Christ essentially denies His human nature! The great Fathers and teachers of our Church, who stood out through the blaze of iconoclasm, formulated the orthodox doctrine with care and reverence. The worship of the holy image of Christ and the other holy persons of Christianity is not idolatry, as was accused by the iconoclasts, because the honor is not addressed to the matter, but to the depicted person, since “its image honor passes over the original” (M .Vassilios P . G . 32,149) and “They bow down to the twenty things of matter, offering the obeisance, but because of them those depicted in the ears” (I. Damascus. P . G .94 1356). The blessing and grace that the believer receives from the veneration of holy icons is given by the living holy person and not by the matter of the icon.
The image has enormous pastoral utility. A picture, as the saying goes, is worth a thousand words. This means that through ecclesiastical iconography the faithful are helped to return to high spiritual theories and to the divine.
Of course, calm was not restored, because iconoclastic emperors still reigned. In 843 the pious empress Theodora, guardian of her minor son Michael III, put an end to the iconoclasm feud and contributed to the triumph of Orthodoxy.
The Fathers decided to celebrate the triumph of the orthodox doctrine on the first Sunday of Lent to show the faithful that our spiritual struggle should be combined with the right faith to be truly effective. Other sects or religions also have fasting and ascetic life, and in fact with much stricter rules of practice. But this does not mean that these people can be saved and unite with God. Salvation is synonymous with truth, on the contrary error and falsehood lead to dead ends and ultimately to loss.