Orthodox icon | Easter 12 Great Feasts | School of Moscow | 24598.
The icon places the resurrection scene in the heart of the image, as Christ emerges from the grave and descends into the underworld. Triumphantly, He stands on the shattered gates of death’s realm. He liberates Adam and Eve, and the virtuous figures from the Old Testament from the grip of death.
The icon then unfurls a series of feasts, progressing from left to right:
- The Birth of the Mother of God (September 21st or September 8th) features Anna, partially reclined and at rest, attended by servants. Her husband, Joachim, prays at the head of the bed. The scene underneath reveals a servant cradling the infant, testing the bath water’s temperature.
- The Presentation of the Mother of God (December 4th or November 21st) presents three-year-old Maria being brought to the Temple in Jerusalem. The icon captures her meeting with High Priest Zacharias on the temple steps, with her parents, Joachim and Anna, and a virgin trailing behind them.
- The Annunciation of the Mother of God (April 7th or March 25th) vividly depicts the joyous announcement of the Savior’s birth. Archangel Gabriel visits the Virgin Mary, revealing her future as the Mother of God. God the Father instructs Gabriel, who exhibits a moment of doubt about delivering the news.
- The Birth of Christ (January 7th or December 25th) portrays the nativity scene in a cave. The Blessed Mother rests, while the child lies swaddled in the manger. The Three Wise Men are nearby. Below, Joseph, accompanied by an old man symbolizing doubt, contemplates the scene.
- The Presentation of Jesus at the Temple (February 15th or February 2nd) illustrates the arrival of the Blessed Mother, Christ, and Joseph at the Jerusalem temple for the child’s consecration to God, forty days after His birth. They meet the elderly Simeon and prophetess Hanna in the temple, with Simeon cradling the infant Jesus.
- The Baptism of Jesus in the Jordan (January 19th or January 6th) reenacts Christ’s baptism by John the Baptist in the Jordan River. Jesus, naked, stands in the river beside John, with angels across the water. Above, the Holy Spirit manifests as a dove while Jesus blesses with His right hand at waist level.
- The Entry into Jerusalem, celebrated after Lazarus Saturday on the Sunday before Holy Week, depicts Christ’s arrival in Jerusalem on a donkey. He is flanked by His disciples and hailed by the crowds.
- The Transfiguration of Christ (August 19th or August 6th) presents Jesus, joined by disciples Peter, James, and John, ascending a mountain and undergoing a dazzling transformation. The disciples witness Jesus in divine radiance, alongside prophets Moses and Elijah. John, Jacob, and Peter kneel beneath them in awe.
- The Ascension of Christ takes place on the 40th day after Easter, on a Thursday in Easter’s 6th week. The icon features Christ leading His disciples to the Mount of Olives. Before their amazed eyes, He ascends to heaven. Two men appear to the startled apostles, heralding the Savior’s eventual return. Christ, encased in a round mandorla and carried by two angels, rises to heaven. The Mother of God, with her hands uplifted in the prayerful orante posture, stands below Him, surrounded by the apostles.
- The Feast of the Cross (September 27th or September 14th) sees Patriarch Makarios of Jerusalem unveiling the Lord’s cross to the people, with Emperor Constantine and Empress Helena present. Helena secures a fragment of the cross and nails, while the cross finds its resting place in a silver chest for protection.
- Pentecost (Holy Trinity) happens seven weeks post-Easter, on a Sunday. The icon represents the hospitality of Abraham, showing Abraham receiving three men, an allegory of the divine Trinity. Abraham kneels before them, while the angels sit at a table beneath the Terebinth of Mamre.
- The Dormition of the Mother of God (August 28th or August 15th) portrays the Blessed Mother’s “sleeping” or dormition, and her heavenly ascension akin to Christ’s. The Mother of God rests on a bed, with apostles at the head and foot. Above, on a golden background, Christ stands holding a swaddled child, symbolizing the soul of the Mother of God.
This icon, a treasure from the Painting School of Moscow, boasts a poliment-gilded backdrop, graced with engraved and painted ornaments.