St. John of Damascus, not only taught that icons and other sacred artworks are permissible because they point to the incarnation of Jesus, but he also understood the rich value of every word to do the same. He is considered one of the Church’s most gifted poets. Every sacred image, whether in art, hymn, poetry can be a prayer that leads us deeper into the heart of God.
The St. John Damascus site contains many of his writings…it’s fantastic!
“RIGHTEOUS JOHN OF DAMASCUS. He was raised in Damascus, Syria, the capital of the Moslem world. When he was ten years of age, his father found a learned monk in the secular studies as well as music and theology. He instructed John and his adopted brother, Cosmas, and John made great progress in theology. At last, the monk departed saying to their father, Sergius, that his sons had become remarkably wise. Sergius soon died, and John was chosen for his office of counselor to the caliph.
During this time, John wrote convincingly against the iconoclasts and Leo the Armenian, as well as the Moslems. He effectively used deductive arguments, history, and parables of the saints. Against the iconoclasts, he argued that since the shadows and handkerchiefs of the apostles healed the sick, why was it not appropriate to venerate their icons. His letters were circulated to strengthen and prepare the people to answer the attacks of the heretics. Seeing this, the emperor wrote a letter in John’s hand that had him condemned to the caliph for whom he worked. The caliph had his right hand cut off and hung in the market place. That night, John recovered his hand and prayed before an icon of the Theotokos, called of the three hands, promising that he would write hymns for Orthodoxy if he were healed. He slept, and she told him that he was healed and to write. The caliph freed him, and he became a humble monk. He wrote canons, troparia, idiomela, festal homilies for feast days of Jesus and the Theotokos, the saints and prophets. He established the Typikon, the order of services. He became the mouth piece of all the bishops of the east. He died peacefully at 104 years of age.” – from the St. John of Damascus Institute site – for a longer account go there
The video contains some of St. John Damascus’ teachings on the Blessed Virgin Mary