The Iconostasis - Overview

The monumental 31-feet wide, 16-feet tall iconostasis, dramatic and deeply spiritual work, was painstakingly carved by Kistas Pylarinos from the solid pieces of mahogany wood.
The icons were produced and painted by Dmitry Shkolnik, a Russian native, one of the iconographers, who painted the icons for the famous Christ the Savior Temple (Moscow, Russia).
For long five years iconostasis was waiting for its permanent home and was stored by pieces in our parishioners’ homes. Newly installed iconostasis has not been consecrated yet, but already has its own spiritual history.

The iconostasis was creating the breathtaking spiritual atmosphere during the celebration of Divine Liturgies at 13th All-American Council of the Orthodox Church in America held in Orlando, FL in July 2002, where it was installed.

From April 6 to June 15 it was exhibited in the Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg, Florida as a part of the St. Petersburg 300/100 Anniversary Celebration.

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Iconostasis overview

Iconostasis schematic view

1. The icon of St. Nicholas
2. The icon of the Archangel Gabriel
3. The Icon of The Virgin
4. The Icon of the Savior
5. The icon of the Archangel Michael
6. The Icon of St. Mark
8. The Deesis

One of the more notable features of the interior design of Orthodox Churches derived from the Byzantine liturgical tradition is the icon screen, or iconostasis (iconostasion), which separates the area within which the clergy celebrates the Holy Mysteries from the area occupied by the faithful.

At first, an iconostasis was just a small wall (threshold, fence), as a symbolic division between the Sanctuary and the Nave, that is, between the Heaven and the Earth (the Divine and the human).

There are three doors in the iconostasis. The central one, the widest and the highest is called Royal Doors, because Jesus Christ Himself, the King of Glory, invisibly passes through the Doors in the form of the Holy Eucharist (Holy Communion). Nobody, except the priest can enter the Royal door.
The icons of the Annunciation of the Birth giver and the four Evangelists are placed on Royal Doors. The Icon of the Holy Supper is usually placed above the Royal Doors.

In the larger iconostasis the icons are arranged in tiers or rows across its entire length.

The first (lower), original row, called The Sovereign Row has to include the icon of the Savior, placed to the right of the Royal door. An icon of the Virgin is always placed to the left of the Royal door.

To the right of the icon of the Savior there is the Southern door with the icon of the Archangel Michael on it. To the left of the icon of the Virgin there is the North Door with the icon of the Archangel Gabriel on it. To the left and to the right of the side doors there are icons of the most venerated Saints. To the right of the Southern door the Temple icon is placed. This is the icon of the Saint/Saints or the Liturgical Feast day to which the church as dedicated. To the left of the Northern door the icon either of St. Nicolas or the icon of John the Baptists is usually placed.

The second row is usually either the Festival (Liturgical Feasts) Row, presenting the Great Feast days, or the Deesis (often the largest and most important row tangle).

The Deesis row has to include at least three icons: Enthroned Christ in the middle, flanked on his left (on the right from the viewer's point of view) by John the Baptist, and on his right (on the left from the viewer's point of view) by the Virgin.

The forth tier includes the icons of the Old Testament Prophets. And the very upper tier includes the row of the icons of the Old Testament Patriarchs.