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To understand the icon of the Transfiguration, you first need to have a short understanding of the nature of an “icon”, and why this particular graphic format is different from a standard piece of religious artwork. “Icon” is simply the Greek word for image, and they consist of symbolic images of Jesus, Mary, the Saints and, occasionally, the events of the church year. 

The word icon, from the Greek eikon, simply means image. In the Orthodox Church, all forms of sacred art, irrespective of medium, are part of the icon concept, including wall decorations (such as mosaics and frescoes), reliefs on wood, metal, or ivory, illuminated manuscripts or books, embroideries, tapestries, and enamel work. Yet in the Western Church, icons generally refer to paintings in the Orthodox tradition using egg tempera and gold leaf on a prepared wooden panel.

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