Why the old prohibition against “graven images” does not apply to authentic Catholic statuary and religious art


From the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

476     Since the Word became flesh in assuming a true humanity, Christ’s body was finite. Therefore the human face of Jesus can be portrayed; at the seventh ecumenical council (Nicaea II in 787) the Church recognized its representation in holy images to be legitimate.

477     At the same time the Church has always acknowledged that in the body of Jesus “we see our God made visible and so are caught up in love of the God we cannot see.” The individual characteristics of Christ’s body express the divine person of God’s Son. He has made the features of his human body his own, to the point that they can be venerated when portrayed in a holy image, for the believer “who venerates the icon is venerating in it the person of the one depicted”.

Editor’s note: When the Eternal Word took on flesh and became the corporal image of a heavenly thing, the old prohibition against graven images became moot, since nobody with even a bit of sense would ever choose to worship a lump of stone or wood or clay … once they had actually seen the 2nd person of the Holy Trinity, made man for us … or his authentic, church approved, holy image.

Saint John says as much, here:

And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us (and we saw his glory, the glory as it were of the only begotten of the Father), full of grace and truth.  (John 1:14)

For people of grace, there is simply no mistaking it … and there also remains very little “room” for foolish and sinful idolatry.

On of the great joys of the Feast of Christmas … at least for faithful and properly educated Christians … is finally being able to identify (and personally address) the previously unknowable, ineffable God … who is Christ, the Lord.

To know him is to love him. And that is the primary thing!


  1. As a Catholic, statuary has been condoned by the Councils, we are allowed to have and venerate. Evangelicals and Fundalmentalist believe it is Idolatry, they believe ONLY in the Bible. Obviously the Doctor’s and Theologians of the “True Church” have the Truth?

  2. Correction. Have the Truth!

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