Orthodox icon | Easter and the 12 Great Feasts | 24484.
At the heart of the icon is the dramatic depiction of Jesus Christ’s resurrection from the tomb and His descent into Hades. In a powerful representation of the conquest of death, Christ shatters the gates of Hades, delivering Adam and Eve along with other righteous individuals from the Old Testament.
The icon progresses through various momentous events, unfolding from left to right:
- Nativity of the Theotokos: The scene captures Anna, the mother of Mary, in a state of repose. Her husband, Joachim, is illustrated in a position of prayer. The adjacent scene tenderly portrays the bathing of the infant Mary.
- Presentation of the Theotokos: At a tender age of three, Mary is brought to the Temple in Jerusalem. The icon reveals Mary’s meeting with the high priest, Zacharias, at the temple’s entrance. Also present are her parents and a maiden.
- Annunciation of the Theotokos: The scene paints a divine moment when the Archangel Gabriel reveals to Mary her destined role as the Mother of God. The icon depicts God the Father instructing Gabriel, who appears with a hint of hesitation, to deliver the sacred message.
- Nativity of Christ: The humble setting of a cave frames the birth of Jesus. Mary is shown in rest, while the baby Jesus lies in a crib. The Magi are depicted alongside the crib, with Joseph, accompanied by an old man embodying doubt, seen in contemplation below them.
Second Row Left:
- Presentation of Jesus at the Temple: Mary and Joseph bring the infant Jesus to the Temple at forty days old to consecrate Him to God. They encounter the aged Simeon and the prophetess Hanna. Simeon, promised the sight of the Messiah before his death, is shown cradling the baby Jesus.
Second Row Right:
- Baptism of Jesus in the Jordan: The icon vividly portrays the Gospel story of Jesus’ baptism by John the Baptist in the Jordan River. Jesus is illustrated standing nude in the river, John at His side. Across the river, angels are seen, while the Holy Spirit appears as a dove above them. Jesus confers His blessing with His right hand.
Third Row Left:
- Entry into Jerusalem: This momentous event unfolds a week before Jesus’ crucifixion. The icon depicts Jesus astride a donkey as He makes His way into Jerusalem, hailed by the populace and His disciples.
Third Row Right:
- The Transfiguration of Christ: The icon captures Jesus, leading Peter, James, and John up a mountain, where He transfigures in their presence. He is flanked by Moses and Elijah, while Peter, James, and John are depicted kneeling in awe.
- Ascension of Christ: Forty days post His resurrection, Jesus ascends to heaven in the presence of His disciples. The icon illustrates Christ ascending, borne aloft by two angels encased in a circular mandorla. Beneath Him, the Theotokos stands surrounded by the apostles.
- The Feast of the Cross/Exaltation of the Cross: The Patriarch of Jerusalem presents the Holy Cross to the people, in the presence of Emperor Constantine and Empress Helena. Helena is seen taking a part of the cross, with the remainder kept in a silver reliquary.
- Pentecost (Holy Trinity): The icon replicates the story of Abraham’s hospitality, where he receives three visitors embodying the divine Trinity. Abraham is depicted kneeling before them as they partake of his hospitality under the Terebinth of Mamre.
- Dormition of the Theotokos: The icon encapsulates the ‘falling asleep’ of the Theotokos, representing her ascension to heaven akin to Christ. Mary is illustrated resting on a bed, apostles standing vigil at the head and foot. Christ materializes on a golden backdrop, cradling the soul of the Theotokos, portrayed as an infant swaddled in cloth.