Photo courtesy of Byzantium: From Antiquity to the Renaissance

The patriarch Photios expressed the idea that iconic imagery could help man come closer to God in an 867 sermon on the mosaic shown here (comapre with photo of ivory carving), the Mother of God in the apse of Constantinople’s Santa Sophia: “You might think her not incapable of speaking … to such an extent have the lips been made flesh by the colors.” Other Byzantine Christians disagreed, arguing that the Second Commandment specifically prohibits the creation and worship of “graven images.”