NOTE: A custom exists in some of Geronda Ephraim’s monasteries: when a pilgrim has an icon made at the monastery, they will ask for it to be put into the altar for 40 days to “bless it.” Other times, they may bring their own icon from home to place in the altar for 40 days. In some monasteries, the pilgrim might be told it is already blessed and they don’t need to place it in the altar (i.e. the monks or nuns make the icons with prayer and obedience). In other monasteries, the pilgrim might be told, “If the icon is made in the monasteries, it is safe. If it is from somewhere else, we can put it in the altar just to be safe.” This stems from the belief that warlocks and witches use orthodox items for black magic spells. This is also the reasoning behind putting bags of fylakta from Greece on the altar for 40 days, “just to be safe.” The following article is taken from The Rudder, Footnote 9 of the Prologue to the 7th Ecumenical Synod, pp. 930-33:
The holy icons are not adored on account of the material but on account of the likeness that they possess to the ones pictured by them. Hence the Fathers of the present Synod in some addresses said that when the wood forming the shape of the Cross in crucifixes becomes decomposed it is to be burned; and when the paint and outlines of the pictures in the icons become utterly effaced – i.e., so as to be no longer recognizable – the wooden board left is burned as useless wood. Some persons, however, bury such icons out of reverence.
It is not necessary to anoint the holy icons with Myron (or chrism), nor to have them sanctified by the bishop with special prayers: because we do not adore the holy icons because they are anointed or have had prayers said over them, but irrespectively, as soon as we lay eyes on a holy icon, without pausing to examine into the possibility of its having been anointed or having had a special prayer said over it, we at once proceed to pay adoration to it both on account of the name of the Saint and on account of the likeness it bears to the original. [NOTE: In some monasteries, the glass coverings of the icons will be cleaned with myrrh, thus giving the impression that they’re fragrant. It is not uncommon for pilgrims to ask the hieromonks, and especially Geronda Ephraim, to bless their icons and other objects, either by crossing them, or placing them in the altar].
That is why in Act 6 of the present Synod, the Synod of the iconomachs in the reign of Copronymus disparaged the holy icons by asserting that the name of the pictures neither has any holy prayer sanctifying it, in order that from what is common it might be transferred to what is holy, but that, on the contrary, it (sc. the picture) remains common and without honor (i.e., not entitled to honor), just as the painter made it.
THERE ARE NO SPECIAL PRAYERS SAID OVER ICONS
To these allegations the Holy Seventh Ecumenical Synod replied through Deacon Epiphanies, by asserting that it did not say that any special prayer is said over the icons, but said that like many other holy objects they were incapable of receiving (benefit from) any special prayer, but, on the contrary from their very name they are replete with grace and sanctity, in the same way that the shape of the vivifying Cross is, which is entitled to veneration and adoration among us in spite of the fact that it is made without having any special prayer said over it; and we believe that with its shape alone we acquire sanctity, and with the adoration which we pay to it, and the marking of it upon our forehead, and the seal of it which is made in the air with the finger (note that in days of old the sign of the Cross was not made with three fingers, as it is today, but with one finger alone, which fact is stated by St. Chrysostom in one of his discourses; and see concerning this the Footnote to Canon XCI of Basil) in the hope of chasing away the demons.
MANY THINGS ARE REVERED WITHOUT SPECIAL PRAYERS
Likewise, in the same way that we have many holy vessels, and kiss and embrace them fondly, and hope to receive sanctity from them, in spite of the fact that they have not had any special prayers said over them, so and in like manner by fondly kissing and embracing and paying honorary adoration to a holy icon that has not had special prayers said over it we partake of sanctity, and are anagogically lifted up and carried back to the honor of the original through the name of the icon. But if the iconomachs cannot assert that the holy vessels are dishonorable and common because of their not having had any special prayers said over them for the purpose of sanctifying them, but are just as the weaver, the painter, and the goldsmith finished them, yet they regard there as holy and precious; in the same way they ought to regard the venerable icons as holy and precious and holy even though they have not had any special prayers said over them to sanctify them (page 844 of Volume II of the Synodal Records). The holy icons do not need any special prayer or any application of myrrh, because, according to Dositheos (page 658 of the Dodecabiblus) it is only the Papists (or Roman Catholics) that perpetrate the iniquity of qualifying pictures with certain prayers and devotions. For they boast that the Pope manufactures pictures from pure wax, holy oil, and water of sanctification, and that he reads marvelous prayers over them, and that because of these special features these pictures perform miracles (just as they falsely state that Leo III sent such a picture to King Charles of France, and he reverenced it; and that Pope Urban sent another picture to John Paleologos, and this one was honored with a litany in the Church).
PRIESTS BLESSING ICONS WITH HOLY WATER IS A PAPAL AFFAIR
Do you see that the prayer which is read over holy icons is a Papal affair, and not Orthodox; and that it is a modern affair, and not an ancient one? For this reason no such prayer can be found anywhere in the ancient manuscript Euchologia. In fact, we have noticed that this prayer is not even found in Euchologia printed only a hundred years ago! It becomes evident that holy icons do not need any special prayer or application of myrrh, because the pictures painted on the walls of churches, and in their naves and in their aisles, and in general in streets and on doors, and on the holy vessels, are never anointed with myrrh and never any special prayer said over them, and yet, in spite of this, adoration is paid to them relatively and honorably by all on account of the likeness they bear to the originals. That is why the erudite Bishop of Campania Sir Theophilos the Saint did not conceal this truth, but stated in the book which he has just recently produced that the holy icons do not need any anointing with myrrh nor any special prayer by a bishop.
NOTE: The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America has a webpage containing a prayer for The Blessing and Hallowing of an Icon:
Priest: Blessed is our God always, both now and ever, and unto ages of ages:
Chanter: Amen, The Trisagion Prayers. O All holy Trinity. Our Father
Priest: For Yours is the Kingdom …
Chanter: Amen. Kyrie eleison. O come, let us worship and fall down. . .
Priest: O Lord our God, Who created us after Your own Image and Likeness; Who redeems us from our former corruption of the ancient curse through Your manbefriending Christ, Who took upon Himself the form of a servant and became man; Who having taken upon Himself our likeness remade Your Saints of the first dispensation, and through Whom also we are refashioned in the Image of Your pure blessedness;
Your Saints we venerate as being in Your Image and Likeness, and we adore and glorify You as our Creator;
Wherefore we pray You, send forth Your blessing upon this Icon, and with the sprinkling of hallowed water
Bless and make holy this Icon unto Your glory, in honor and remembrance of Your Saint (N);
And grant that this sanctification will be to all who venerate this Icon of Saint (N), and send up their prayer unto You standing before it;
Through the grace and bounties and love of Your Only-Begotten Son, with Whom You are blessed together with Your All-Holy, Good and Life-creating Spirit; both now and ever, and unto ages of ages.