Royal Doors with Icons of the
Iconography was developed in the 4th Century A.D. in the great city of Byzantium, the Eastern part of the Roman Empire. This was possible thanks to the Christian Emperor Constantine (c. 274-337) who recognized Christianity as a legitimate religion throughout the Roman Empire through the Edict of Milan (313 A.D.) The Church was then free to create new ways to communicate the word of the Gospels to its great numbers of new converts most of whom couldn't read. As a result, the Christian message was no longer confined to the understanding of a few.
It took about two hundred years, during the time of Justinian (c. 483-565), for the Church to develop the symbolic language of the image to its definitive form. The result was the creation of a symbolic language that expressed the Christian faith by way of images -- a visual theology.
There were times during the 8th and 9th centuries, (the iconoclast period), that “icon smashers” tried to destroy all holy images. During these times, people brought their icons to the safest place they knew, their church. As more and more people brought their icons, there was a need for order. The people began to erect pillars and beams to which the icons were attached in front of the Holy Place. Gradually it became so filled and high that the Holy Place was no longer visible.
In order for this stand to be functional in the church, it is erected with three sets of doors. The center doors are called the Royal Doors (also called the Holy Doors or Gates to Heaven). These doors have icons of the four Evangelists, Ss. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. The doors to the left and right of the Royal Doors are called Deacon Doors.
The center entrance is called Royal Doors because Christ, the King, enters through them both symbolically and actually. The symbolic entrance takes place during the singing of the Cherubic Hymn. The actual entrance takes place when the Blessed Sacrament is carried through them. Only the Bishop or Priest pass through these doors; the deacon does so only when accompanied by a Bishop or Priest. The Deacon Doors are called such because the deacon uses them.
The Iconostas is symbolic and represents the heavenly court. In emphasizes the holiness of the Sanctuary as the abode of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. From early days of antiquity, the Iconostas is used in the Byzantine Rite.
If an Iconostas has several levels (as ours does), the second level usually has icons of the Twelve Great Feast of the Church and uppermost level is Christ in His glory, the Judge, sitting on a throne. On either side of Christ are groups of Apostles and Prophets.
The Iconostas is to remind us the human and divine relationship Christ has with His people: those who came before Him; lived alongside Him; and those who through Him and along with the Mother of God and the saints, have their salvation accomplished.
31. St. John (Apostle)
32. St. Simon (Apostle)
33. St. James (Greater-Apostle)
34. St. Bartholomew (Apostle)
35. St. Phillip (Apostle)
36. Abraham (Patriarch)
37. Moses (Prophet)
38. Aaron (Prophet)
39. Ezechiel (Prophet)
40. Daniel (Prophet)
41. Jeremias (Prophet)
42. Christ the High Priest & King
43. Elias (Prophet)
44. David (King)
45. Isaias (Prophet)
46. Jonas (Prophet)
47. Zacharias (Prophet)
48. Solomon (King)
49. Blessed Virgin Mary
50. St. John (Apostle)
Icon of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Icon of Our Lord, Jesus Christ
Holy Trinity Church—Template of the Iconostas
1. St. Nicholas
2. St. Michael the Archangel
3. Blessed Virgin Mary with Christ Child
4. St. Matthew (Angels-Gospel writer)
5. St. Mark (Lion-Gospel writer)
6. St. Luke (Ox-Gospel writer)
7. St. John (Eagle-Gospel writer)
8. Our Lord Jesus Christ
9. St. Stephen
10. St. John the Baptist
11. Nativity of Jesus Christ
12. Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary
13. Entrance of Mary in the Temple
14. Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary
15. Baptism of Jesus Christ-Jordan River
16. Transfiguration on Mt. Tabor
17. Resurrection of Jesus Christ
18. Ascension of Jesus Christ
19. Descent of the Holy Spirit
20. Entry into Jerusalem (Palm Sunday)
21. Presentation of Jesus in the Temple
22. Assumption of Blessed Virgin Mary
23. St. James (Less-Apostle)
24. St. Thomas (Apostle)
25. St. Jude (Apostle)
26. St. Matthew (Apostle)
27. St. Andrew (Apostle)
28. St. Paul (Sword-Apostle)
29. Last Supper of Jesus Christ
30. St. Peter (Keys-Apostle)