Online Course Theology and History of the Icon

Early Christian Art

October 07 - December 16 2023


How It All Works

To be good iconographers we need to understand what we are doing. The best way to achieve this is to learn the history of iconography and Christian art in general. Improving and deepening our knowledge of the tradition we begin seeing the true meaning of our work. The Early Christian Art course is the first one from a series of theoretical courses dedicated to the Theology and History of Iconography. It's an online self-paced interactive course which consists of:

  • LEARN | 6 video lectures:
    Our 30+ minute lectures are heavily packed with dozens of slides and information on historical context, theological background and unique artistic properties of each of the chosen phenomenon. All the lectures are recorded, links to them will be shared in the Google Classroom.
  • COMMUNICATE | interactivity:
    Students are invited to share their questions in two ways: during live zoom sessions right after the lectures and in the stream of the Google classroom. The answers are given sequentially.
  • IMMERSE | interaction:
    Students are suggested to share their own opinions and participate in discussions both during the zoom sessions and in the Google Classroom.
  • SELF-CHECK | questions & answers:
    Summary section at the end of each lecture copied to PDF file to make sure the knowledge was absorbed.
  • ENJOY | one year access:
    All the recorded video lectures will be available to you during the course and for 1 more year after the end of the course. After the last lecture you will be suggested to download a PDF with the course Summary.
  • What I Will Learn

  • The historical and theological context of the first centuries of Christian Art (mainly from the East of Roman Empire)
  • Values, subject matters, styles and goals of first Christian artists
  • How to discern and identify the first Christian symbols and their meanings
  • The most essential dates, terms and artworks associated with early Christian art
  • Individual appreciation for Christian art of different periods
  • Each lecture is accompanied with a detailed summary with links to external resources for further learning.



    For everybody interested to know the history, theology and theory of early Christian art from a practical point of view. The course provides an extensive amount of information covering different aspects of the chosen topics, it will be useful for those, who have very little knowledge, and also for those who feel they have an extensive knowledge in narrow fields.


    60 USD or 55 Euros for:
    6 Live Zoom Lectures 30+ minutes each
    Recorded version shared on the next day
    PDF summary + extra resources for each lecture
    Comprehensive answers to individual questions.


    12 weeks
    Zoom Lectures are performed on every second Saturday, starting on October the 07 and finishing on December 16, 2023. The answers to your questions in the Classroom are given until December 22, 2023 included.


    Live zoom lectures. Recorded Full HD versions of the lectures available on the next day. Summaries of all lectures with links to extra materials shared through Google Classroom. All the videos remain available to the students for a minimum 1 year after the end of the Course.


    During the period of the course the lectures will be held online on every second Saturday and recorded. To check the availability of the live sessions for your location please check The List of Time Zones below.


    Learners are suggested to either participate in live zoom sessions or watch the recorded versions on Youtube. Personal answers from the lector are given during the live sessions right after the lecture or in the Classroom during the whole period of the course until December 22, 2023.


    Learners are suggested to join the live zoom sessions with any device with a working zoom app, however it is better to use tablets or other devices with larger size screens to see specific details of the slides better.


    We pack our lectures with as much information and images as we can, yet we keep them up to 40 minutes max. However, to allow students to get most out of every lecture we suggest our students ask questions. If you like to ask your own questions or want to hear questions of your fellow students, you can do it either in zoom right after the lectures, or in the Classroom.

    Practical Matters

    This Course starts with the first Zoom Lecture on October 07, 2023. It consists of 6 lectures, performed on every second Saturday (see the Schedule below).
    The students are invited to join the Live zoom sessions or watch the recorded sessions, published on the next day, together with the summary and links to extra resources. After the last lecture scheduled on December 15 you will have 6 more days to post your questions and receive personalized answers.

    Access to the Google Classroom and the videos is for the course participants only and must not be shared with anyone else in any form.
    Please check The List of Time Zones* to see at what time it will be available to you:
  • 20:00 Helsinki time
  • 19:00 Amsterdam, Berlin, Madrid, Paris, Rome time
  • 18:00 London time
  • 01:00 PM New York, Washington DC, Quebeck, Toronto time
  • 12:00 PM Chicago, Houston, Dallas, Minneapolis, Winnipeg time
  • 11:00 AM New Mexico, Calgary time
  • 10:00 AM Los Angeles, Seattle, Vancouver time
    * Daylight Savings schedule changes applied

    NOTE: If we have more than 10 students from the eastern hemisphere, we will add one more session starting at 18:00 Melbourne (Australia) time.
  • What the Lectures Are Like

    Every lecture is made of several parts, covering practical and theoretical aspects of the subject. We always start by briefly defining the historical context. After showing a series of slides with most characteristic images, we analyze their artistic qualities, giving emphasis on artists' purposes and preferences. Taking into account all of the above, we exemplify the theological content of the images (or architecture), connecting it with relative references produced in other media and/or arts of the time. Having done that we analyze how they were produced, sharing practical information about the production process with our students.
    Every lecture is finished with theoretical and practical conclusions regarding the significance of the phenomena for todays' iconography and its meaning in the context of Christian art in general.

    The Introduction:
    Predecessors of iconography: Frescoes of Dura Europos & Fayum Portraits.

    Calendar of Lectures

    1. Learning from Catacomb Symbols and Paintings

    October 7

    2. The First Churches on Earth.

    October 21

    3. The Genesis of Iconography of Christ.

    November 4

    4. Material Context, Iconography Elements, The Mandylion.

    November 18

    5. Experiencing the Sacred. Synthesis of Arts and Architecture.

    December 2

    6. Fighting for the Images. Iconoclasts VS Iconophiles

    December 16

    Ready to Enroll?

    Online Iconography Course History and Theology of the Icon. Early Christian Art costs $60 USD or 55 Euros.
    This course will start on October 07 and will end on December 16, 2023. Making your registration payment, please provide a valid email address, - it will also be used to send you a personal invitation to Google Classroom and all further communications.

    For payments in Dollars:

    Learning Theology, Theory and History of Iconography Online

    For Payments in Euros:

    Learning Theology, Theory and History of Iconography Online

    If within 60 days from the purchase date you experience health issues forbidding you to participate in the chosen course, we will fully refund the cost of your order.

    Please, let us know if you have any questions.
    If you wish to be informed about our future courses and other events, get in touch with us (top-right of this page) or subscribe to our regular Newsletter at the bottom of this page.

    About the Instructor

    Philip Davydov. Sacred Murals Studio (since September 2001: Saint Petersburg, Russia; since March 2022: Tbilisi, Georgia).
    Learning Theology, Theory and History of Iconography Online

    Philip Davydov

    Iconographer, iconography instructor and web-site administrator.
    Second-generation iconographer with M.A. from State Fine Art Academy of Saint Petersburg (faculty of Theory and History of Art).
    2001 co-founder of Sacred Murals Studio (St. Petersburg, Russia).
    Teaching iconography in the US, Italy, Australia and other countries since 2005.
    2006 Member of the Union of Artists of Russia.
    2009 - 2022 Professor at Institute of Theology and Sacred Arts (Saint Petersburg).
    2021 November - December Head of Iconography School of St Petersburg Seminary.
    March 2022 - Present. Freelance iconographer and iconography Teacher.

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    Frequently Asked Questions

  • English is not my first language, can I still enrol to your courses?
    English is not our first language either, so we endeavour to speak slowly and articulate clearly. Besides, all video lectures have subtitles in English, which you can easily translate into most languages, clicking the "gear" icon, than clicking "Subtitles" and "Language". If you are unsure, whether you will feel comfortable learning from the recorded videos, try watching the introductory lecture (published above) to make a more informed decision.

  • Do you teach via ZOOM?
    This course is taught via zoom, however, all the zoom lectures are recorded and can be watched at any time during the course. They also remain available for one year after the end of the course. Links to recorded videos on Youtube are shared in the Google classroom, so students can watch them at their pace choosing the appropriate speed.

  • What if I have questions? Do I get personal answers to them?
    We invite our students to share their questions related to the course during the live zoom sessions right after the lectures and in the Google Classroom Stream. This allows other fellow students to hear or read the answers which can be useful for everyone.