Orthodox icon | Dormition of the Mother of God.
The “Dormition of the Mother of God,” or commonly known as the “Death of Mary,” represents this specific theme.
Described in chapter 394 of the painter’s handbook from Mount Athos, the scene portrays the most holy Mother of God peacefully lying on a bed inside a house, with her hands crossed.
A Hebrew man stands in front of the bed, his hands severed by an angel wielding a drawn sword.
Apostle Peter stands at her feet, while Saint Paul and Saint John the theologian are positioned beside her head. Above her, Christ hovers, holding her holy soul in his arms, dressed in white amidst radiant light and a multitude of angels.
Christ, represented in a red mandorla, descends from heaven. Having already been crucified, He now comes to escort the soul of the Virgin Mary into eternity.
According to Orthodox belief, Mary willingly surrenders her soul into the hands of her Son, who guides her to heaven. This interpretation presents the death of Mary as the archetype of our own resurrection. The apostles, who had spread the Gospel throughout the world, gather once again around her bier.
According to historical accounts, Jechoniak, the Hebrew man, attempted to overturn the bier of the Mother of God, and as a consequence, an angel severed his hands.
The feast day of the Dormition is on August 15, a tradition that originated in the 6th century. This theme is also referred to as “Koimesis” in Greek.
Additionally, the depiction includes two bishops: Saint Dionysios “the Areopagite,” who served as the Bishop of Athens (October 3), and Saint Hierotheos of Athens “the Lawgiver,” another Bishop of Athens (October 4).
In the margin, the icon also portrays Saint Emperor Constantine and Saint Empress Helena (May 21).