We, therefore, following the royal pathway and the divinely inspired authority of our Holy Fathers and the traditions of the Catholic Church (for, as we all know, the Holy Spirit dwells in her), define with all certitude and accuracy that, like the figure of the precious and life-giving Cross, so also, venerable and holy images of our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ, of our spotless Lady, the Mother of God, of the honorable angels, of all saints and of all the just, whether painted or made of mosaic or another suitable material, are to be set forth in the holy churches of God, on the sacred vessels, on the vestments, on walls and panels, in houses, and on streets. For the more frequently they are seen in artistic representation, the more readily men are lifted up to the memory of their prototypes and to longing after them; and to these should be given due greeting and honorable reverence, not indeed that adoration (latreia) which pertains to the divine nature alone, but incense and candles may be offered to these, as to the figure of the precious and life-giving Cross, the Book of the Gospels, and other holy objects, according to ancient and pious custom. For the honor that is paid to the image passes on to what the image represents, and he who reveres the image reveres in it the subject represented.
(2d Council of Nicea, A.D. 787)
The images of Christ, of the
Virgin Mother of God, and of other saints are to be kept and preserved,
in places of worship especially, and to them due honor and veneration is
to be given, not because it is believed that there is in them anything
divine or any power for which they are revered, nor in the sense that
something is sought from them or that a blind trust is put in
images as once was done by the gentiles who placed their hope in idols,
but because the honor that is shown to them is referred to the original
subjects that they represent. Thus, through these images that we kiss
and before which we kneel and uncover our heads, we are adoring Christ and venerating the saints whose likeness these images bear.
(Council of Trent, Session XXV, December 1563)
The same subject, continued.