Orthodox icon | Dormition of the Mother of God | 24784.
The theme is known as the “Dormition of the Mother of God” in Orthodox churches, also colloquially referred to as the “Death of Mary.” Chapter 394 of the painter’s handbook of Mount Athos depicts the most holy Mother lying peacefully on a bed with folded hands.
In front of the bed, a Hebrew man stands with severed hands, while an angel holds a bare sword before him. Apostle Peter is at her feet, and Saint Paul along with Saint John the Theologian are near her head. Christ hovers above her, encircled in a radiant mandorla, holding her holy soul dressed in white amidst a luminous aura and an assembly of angels.
In this depiction, Christ, already crucified and enveloped in a red mandorla, descends from heaven to usher the departed Mother of God’s soul into eternity. According to Orthodox belief, Mary entrusted her soul to her Son, who carries her to heaven. This interpretation presents Mary’s death as the exemplar of our resurrection.
The apostles, having evangelized throughout the world, have regathered at her bier. The Hebrew man, traditionally identified as Jechoniak, purportedly attempted to topple the bier of the Mother of God; as punishment for this transgression, an angel severed his hands.
This feast day is celebrated by the Orthodox Church on August 15 and has been recognized since the 6th century. The theme is also recognized by the Greek name “Koimesis.” The background of the icon features a sheet metal detailing.