Orthodox icon | Dormition of the Mother of God.
About the depiction:
Orthodox churches frequently display the motif known as the “Dormition of the Mother of God,” more commonly called the “Death of Mary.”
A detailed description of this scene is provided in chapter 394 of the Mount Athos painter’s handbook: it depicts the Mother of God lying on her deathbed in a house, her hands crossed over her chest.
A Hebrew man, his hands severed, stands near the bed while an angel brandishes a sword in front of him. The apostle Peter positions himself at her feet as Saints Paul and John the Theologian cluster by her head. Hovering above her, Christ cradles her holy, white-cloaked soul in his arms. A radiant glow and a throng of angels envelop this poignant scene.
Christ, encapsulated within a red mandorla, has descended from heaven. Having been crucified, he now seeks to guide the soul of the deceased Mother of God into eternity. The Orthodox interpretation suggests that Mary willingly surrendered her soul to her Son, who then ushers her to heaven. Mary’s death, therefore, is seen as the prototype for our own resurrection.
The apostles, who had traveled far and wide spreading the gospel, reconvened around her funeral bier. Historically, the Hebrew man, identified as Jechoniak, allegedly attempted to topple the Mother of God’s bier, an offense for which an angel severed his hands in punishment.
The Orthodox Church celebrates this feast day, known alternatively as “Koimesis” in Greek, on August 15. The celebration dates back to the 6th century.
On this icon:
Accompanying elements include the Guardian Angel and Saint Venerable Euphrosyne of Alexandria on the sides.
Saint Euphrosyne, the child of Paphnutios who later became a monk and, according to some traditions, a martyr, supposedly lived under the male guise of Smaragdus in an Alexandrian monastery for almost forty years. It was only shortly before her death that her true gender was revealed.
The icon’s upper portion features God the Father extending a blessing.
About the oklad:
Craftsmen originally designed the oklad for the icon of the Mother of God “Joy of All Oppressed,” and the writing on the metal oklad continues to bear witness to this fact.