Orthodox icon | Crucifixion of Jesus with inlaid bronze cross | 24721.
A striking Orthodox bronze/brass cross with two-tone enamel, the Staurothek, adorns the center of the wooden icon. Above it, the revered depiction of “the not human-made image of Christ” from Edessa portrays Christ’s face, believed to have imprinted itself onto a cloth miraculously, the Mandylion.
The central composition features profound symbols: Christ’s crucified figure, representations of the sun and moon symbolizing spiritual and worldly power, a spear, and a stem of hyssop recalling the Crucifixion instruments. The city walls of Jerusalem appear below this scene, directing the gaze to Golgotha, the resting place of Adam’s skull.
The icon’s poliment-gilded background, decorated with hallmarks and intricate engravings, enhances the composition’s grandeur and splendor. The exceptional craftsmanship and meticulous attention to detail render this a significant piece of religious art, encapsulating the deep spiritual symbolism and veneration of the depicted figures and scenes.
The Saints on the left:
Moving to the left side of the icon, we encounter the graceful depiction of the Mother of God alongside two revered saints. Saint Mary Magdalene, celebrated on the third Sunday of Easter and July 22nd, is joined by Saint Mary of Clopas, honored on the third Sunday of Easter, May 23rd, and June 19th.
According to the first three Gospels, Saint Mary of Clopas, also known as Mary of James, was the mother of the disciple James the Younger (Gospel of Mark 15:40). Additionally, the Gospel of John (19:25) mentions her as a witness to the crucifixion of Jesus, indicating her close association with the inner circle of disciples. Therefore, she is believed to be a sister of Mary.
Saint Mary Magdalene derives her name from her hometown, Magdala, which is present-day Migdal in Israel. After being freed from possession by Jesus (Gospel of Luke 8:2), Mary became a devoted disciple. Notably, Jesus’ circle of disciples extended beyond the twelve known male apostles and included women, among whom Mary held a special position. She is consistently mentioned as a prominent figure among women in the New Testament.
The Saints on the right:
On the right side of the icon, we encounter the depiction of Saint Apostle John the Theologian, whose feast day is celebrated on May 8th, along with Saint Longinus, honored on October 16th.
According to legend, Saint Longinus was the name of the Roman captain of soldiers stationed at the foot of the cross of Jesus. After witnessing the crucifixion, he uttered the profound confession, “Truly, this was the Son of God” (Gospel of Matthew 27:54). Following his conversion to Christianity, he is said to have met a martyr’s fate under the reign of Emperor Claudius.
Above the central composition, we witness poignant scenes portraying the Descent from the Cross and the Entombment of Christ, capturing the sorrow and solemnity of His sacrifice.
Adorning the edge of the icon, we find the figures of Saint Michael the Archangel, commemorated on November 8th, and Saint Alexander Nevsky, celebrated on November 14th. Saint Alexander Nevsky, renowned as the Prince of Novgorod and the Grand Prince of Kiev and Vladimir-Suzdal, left an indelible mark on Russian history.