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Icons were used in the first centuries of Christianity, first as an object of decoration or private devotion, and later exposed in Christian churches for public veneration. Apocryphal writings of the second century relate that the icon of the Blessed Mother painted by St. Luke was the first icon. According to... show more Icons were used in the first centuries of Christianity, first as an object of decoration or private devotion, and later exposed in Christian churches for public veneration. Apocryphal writings of the second century relate that the icon of the Blessed Mother painted by St. Luke was the first icon. According to another legend, Jesus himself gave and "image of His sacred face," called the Icon Made Without Hands ("Nerukotvorennyj Obraz"), to the Apostle Thaddeus, who used it for miraculous healing and the conversion of the Chaldean King Abgar of Edessa (cf. Eusebius, Hist. Eccl. I, 13). Although these are only legends, nevertheless they confirm an historical fact that in the East the veneration of icons originated in the Syro-Palestinian region, the cradle of Christianity.
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