I wrote a lengthy article months ago and kept submitting to the church newsletter for inclusion but it was always "lost" or forgotten. After so long, I got the message I guess. So....I decided to share the information in pieces here, on my own blog. I still think the information is relevant to the church.
Why do icons look like they do?
What do all those letters mean?
On all icons there are inscriptions in the language of origin usually in abbreviated formats. Some iconographers use their “artistic” license to make the abbreviations and make it difficult for even the most seasoned linguist to interpret. IC XC meaning Jesus Christ in Greek. IHCOYC XPICTOC the letter “C” in this case is the letter Sigma in Greek. The first and last letter is used, usually with a line or squiggle across the top to show it is an abbreviation.
On icons of the Mother Of God the letters MP OV ( Mu Rho Theta Upsilon) means Mētēr Theou or Mother of God.
In the Halo of the Savior you will see: “omicron”, “omega”, and “ nu”. These letters mean “I Am” or “I Exist”.
· Theta (th) is the first letter of Theou (Θεοῦ), Greek for "God's", the genitive case of Θεóς, Theos, Greek for "God".
· Upsilon (u) is the first letter of uios (Υἱὸς), Greek for "Son".
Historians say the 20th-century use of the ichthys motif is an adaptation based on an Early Christian symbol which included a small cross for the eye or the Greek letters "ΙΧΘΥΣ".