Orthodox icon | Easter and the 12 Great Feasts | 24705


  • Typ: Russian icon
  • Age: 19th century
  • Size: 31 x 26.5 cm | 12.2 x 10.4 in


Orthodox icon | Easter and the 12 Great Feasts | 24705.

The icon’s central panel shows Christ’s resurrection and descent into the underworld, a victory over death. Christ stands on the shattered gates of death’s realm. He saves Adam, Eve, and Old Testament righteous figures. An angel and John the Forerunner guide them. The Grateful Thief and the Prophet Elias are in paradise. Peter is at the grave in the top left corner.

The bottom right corner shows Jesus and Peter at the Sea of Galilee.

  1. “Birth of the Mother of God” is celebrated on September 21, or alternatively September 8. The icon shows Anna, Mary’s mother, half-lying with attendants around her. Joachim, Anna’s husband, prays near her head. A servant holds the child and tests the water below, where the bathing scene takes place.
  2. “Presentation of the Mother of God” happens on December 4, or November 21 as an alternative. The icon shows three-year-old Mary’s arrival at the Jerusalem Temple. There, she’ll live until fifteen. High priest Zacharias meets Mary at the temple. Behind them are Mary’s parents, Joachim and Anna, and a virgin.
  3. “Annunciation of the Mother of God” is on April 7th or alternatively March 25th. The icon shows the Archangel Gabriel announcing the Savior’s birth to the Virgin Mary. At first, God the Father sends Gabriel with the message. Gabriel doubts on his way and appears again on the left.
  4. “Birth of Christ” is on January 7th or December 25th as an alternative. The icon shows Christ’s birth in a humble cave. The Blessed Mother rests, while the infant Jesus is in a nearby crib. The three wise men are beside the crib. Joseph is below, contemplating with an old man, the “spirit of doubt.”
  5. “Presentation of Jesus at the Temple” is celebrated on February 15 or February 2 alternatively. The Blessed Mother and her fiance Joseph bring infant Jesus to the Jerusalem temple. This happens forty days after his birth. At the temple, they meet the old Simeon and prophetess Hanna. Simeon, prophesied to see the Messiah before his death, holds Jesus.
  6. “Baptism of Jesus in the Jordan” is celebrated on January 19 or January 6 alternatively. The icon shows Jesus’ baptism by John the Baptist in the Jordan River. Jesus stands undressed in the river, with John next to him. Angels are on the opposite riverbank. The Holy Spirit is symbolized by a dove above. Jesus blesses with his right hand at his waist.
  7. “Entry into Jerusalem” is on the Sunday before Holy Week, after Lazarus Saturday. The icon shows Christ’s entry into Jerusalem a week before his crucifixion. Christ rides a donkey with his disciples. The Jerusalem people warmly welcome him.
  8. “The Transfiguration of Christ” is on August 19 or alternatively August 6. Jesus and his disciples Peter, James, and John climb a mountain in Caesarea Philippi. Jesus separates and prays alone, then transforms into radiant glory. The disciples, awake from sleep, see their transformed teacher. The icon shows Christ in shining white clothes with prophets Moses and Elijah. John and Jacob kneel below, while Peter lies on the ground.
  9. “Ascension of Christ” is forty days after Easter, on a Thursday in the sixth week after Easter. Forty days after his resurrection, Christ takes his disciples to the Mount of Olives. He ascends to heaven before them. As the apostles gaze at the ascending Christ, two men appear and promise the Savior’s return. The icon’s upper part shows Christ ascending to heaven in a round mandorla carried by two angels. Below him, the Mother of God prays in the Orante position, surrounded by the apostles.
  10. “The Feast of the Cross/Exaltation of the Cross” is on September 27 or September 14 alternatively. Jerusalem’s Patriarch, Makarios, shows the Lord’s cross to the people in the presence of Emperor Constantine and his mother, Empress Helena. Helena obtains a part of the cross and some nails. The cross goes in a silver chest for Patriarch Makarios to keep safe for future generations.
  11. “Pentecost (Holy Trinity)” is seven weeks after Easter, on a Sunday. The icon depicts Abraham’s hospitality from Genesis. Three men visit Abraham, but he primarily speaks to one. The Church Fathers interpret this visit as a divine Trinity foreshadow. This representation then becomes linked with Pentecost. The icon shows the three men as angels at a table under the Terebinth of Mamre. Abraham kneels before them.
  12. “Dormition of the Mother of God” is on August 28 or August 15 alternatively. The Dormition, also known as the falling asleep, symbolizes the Blessed Mother’s passing. Like Christ, she ascended to heaven. The icon shows the Mother of God on a bed, with the apostles at her head and foot. Christ, on a golden background, holds a cloth-wrapped child, the soul of the Mother of God.

The icon’s background has poliment-gilding adorned with engraved and painted ornaments, showcasing careful miniature painting techniques.

Source: Orthodox icon | Easter and the 12 Great Feasts | 24705 © Ikonen Mautner. Typing errors, other errors, or changes reserved. More info: “Das Synaxarion. Die Leben der Heiligen der Orthodoxen Kirche” (http://www.prodromos-verlag.de/buecher.html) and Joachim Schäfer: Das Ökumenische Heiligenlexikon – https://www.heiligenlexikon.de.

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Orthodox icon | Easter and the 12 Great Feasts | 24705
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