An object of religious devotion. The English word does not necessarily imply condemnation, as does ‘idol’, or ‘abomination’ (1 Kgs. 11: 5), which is commonly applied in English translations to the cultic objects of the nations. In the 8th cent. CE there was a bitter controversy about the propriety of icons, or pictorial representations of Christ and the saints in churches, eventually settled in favour of pictures and images until the Reformation, when Protestants destroyed many statues and shrines.