"a crude icon of the virgin"


An icon is a depiction of a religious scene or figure, and is usually painted.  They feature in Eastern Christianty and are used to reinforce faith, provide spiritual comfort and show devotion.  People will often have a small space set aside in their home where they will place a group of icons together as a kind of shrine, choosing images which have personal resonance for them.  Christ is a common figure to be depicted, as are Mary, the Archangels and the Saints.  Their use has been subject to much debate over the centuries, as the Bible forbids the use of 'graven images'; for this reason, icons must be either painted flat or in the form of modest bas-relief