What is image worship?

   In public or private, Image Worship is the worship of painted or sculptured repre­sentations of sacred persons or things. No evidence is found, either in the New Testament, or the early writings of the Christians, of any worship of statues or pictures. One of the first allusions to this practice was made by Tertullian, who appealed to the image of the Good Shepherd as engraved upon chalices. In the Roman catacombs, the tombs of the Christians frequently are ornamented by carved images of the Dove, Cross, the symbolical Fish, the Ship, Adam and Eve, Moses striking the Rock, Jonah, Daniel in the lion's den, the Apostles and the Good Shepherd. Those compartments which were used as chapels were profusely decorated with sacred representations. From fear of perpetuating idolatry, the use of images during the first three centuries of the Christian era was exceptional and rare. After the establishment of Christianity by Constantine, however, the pictures of the Savior, the Vir­gin Mary, the Apostles, etc., were introduced in Italy and the East. During the 5th, 6th and 7th centuries such practices as the burning of candles before sacred images, and kneeling and praying before them, were introduced. Some worshipers went so far as to make godfathers of these images. In the second Council of Nice, distinctions as to the worship of images were carefully made, for instance, as between the supreme worship of adoration and the inferior wor­ship of honor or reverence. There has been much controversy on the subject.