Orthodox icon | Easter the 12 Great Feasts & 4 Festivities | 24828
In the center of the icon, the profound mysteries of the resurrection from the grave and the descent into the underworld are depicted. Christ, standing triumphantly on the trampled gates of the dead, rescues Adam and Eve, along with the righteous figures of the Old Testament, from the clutches of death. Guided by the good thief, an angel, and John the forerunner, they enter paradise, guarded by a seraph. Enoch and Elias, two significant figures from the Old Testament, are also depicted in paradise.
Moving towards the upper left, we see the image of Peter at the empty grave, symbolizing the resurrection of Christ. An angel subdues the devil, signifying the victory of good over evil. On the bottom right, Jesus and Peter are portrayed at the Sea of Galilee, representing a significant event in the life of Christ and His disciples.
From left to right, the icon portrays the Great Feasts and festivities of the Orthodox Church:
- Birth of the Mother of God: Celebrated on September 21st (or September 8th), this feast depicts Anna, the mother of Mary, reclining and resting, accompanied by servants. Anna’s husband, Joachim, is shown in a prayerful posture at the head. Below, the scene of the child’s bath is portrayed, with a servant holding the child and checking the water in the container.
- Presentation of the Mother of God: Celebrated on December 4th (or November 21st), this feast commemorates the moment when the three-year-old Mary was brought to the Temple in Jerusalem. The high priest Zacharias is also present in the scene, encountering Mary in front of the temple. The icon showcases the stairs of the temple, with Mary, Zacharias, and Mary’s parents, Joachim and Anna, depicted.
- Pentecost (Holy Trinity): This feast, celebrated on the seventh Sunday after Easter, portrays the hospitality of Abraham as recorded in the book of Genesis. Three men, represented as angels, visit Abraham, and he offers them his humble hospitality. This event is seen as a foreshadowing of the Holy Trinity. Abraham is shown kneeling before the angels, who are seated at a table under the Terebinth of Mamre.
- Annunciation of the Mother of God: Celebrated on April 7th (or March 25th), this feast highlights the joyous news of the birth of the Savior. The Archangel Gabriel appears to the Virgin Mary, delivering the news that she will become the Mother of God. In the icon, God the Father instructs Gabriel on his way to deliver the message, while Gabriel is shown again on the left side, pausing in doubt before proclaiming the news to Mary.
- Birth of Christ: Celebrated on January 7th (or December 25th), this feast depicts the humble birth of Jesus in a cave. The Blessed Mother is shown resting, while the newborn child lies in a cloth within the crib. The three wise men, representing the nations of the world, are depicted next to the crib. Joseph, in deep contemplation, is accompanied by an old man symbolizing doubt.
- Presentation of Jesus at the Temple: Celebrated on February 15th (or February 2nd), this feast portrays the visit of the Blessed Mother and Joseph to the temple in Jerusalem, forty days after the birth of Jesus. There, they encounter the aged Simeon and the prophetess Hanna, who had devoted their lives to serving God in the temple. Simeon, who had been prophesied to witness the Messiah, holds the child in his arms.
- Baptism of Jesus in the Jordan: Celebrated on January 19th (or January 6th), this feast commemorates the baptism of Christ by John the Baptist in the Jordan River. The icon portrays Jesus standing undressed in the river, with John the Baptist beside Him. Angels are shown on the other side of the riverbank, and the Holy Spirit appears in the form of a dove above Christ. Jesus blesses with His right hand, placed at waist level.
- Entry into Jerusalem: Celebrated on the Sunday before Holy Week, after Lazarus Saturday, this feast symbolizes Christ’s entry into Jerusalem one week before His crucifixion. The icon showcases Christ riding a donkey, surrounded by His disciples. The people of Jerusalem greet Him with palm branches, signifying their acknowledgment of Him as the Messiah.
- The Transfiguration of Christ: Celebrated on August 19th (or August 6th), this feast recalls the moment when Jesus took three of His disciples—Peter, James, and John—up a mountain and was transfigured before them. During His transfiguration, His appearance radiated divine glory. Moses and Elijah, representing the Law and the Prophets, respectively, stand next to Christ. Kneeling beneath them are John and Jacob, while Peter lies prostrate on the ground in awe.
- Ascension of Christ: Celebrated 40 days after Easter, on a Thursday, during the 6th week after Easter, this feast commemorates Christ’s ascension into heaven. The icon depicts Christ being carried to heaven by two angels in a round mandorla. Positioned beneath Him, in the center, is the Mother of God in the Orante position, with her hands raised in prayer. The apostles surround her, witnessing the ascension.
- Dormition of the Mother of God: Celebrated on August 28th (or August 15th), this feast represents the “falling asleep” or dormition of the Mother of God. Like Christ, she is assumed into heaven. The icon portrays the Mother of God lying on a bed, with the apostles positioned at the head and foot. Christ stands on a golden background, holding a child wrapped in cloth, symbolizing the soul of the Mother of God.
- The Resurrection of Lazarus: This event depicts the story of Lazarus, the brother of Martha and Mary. Lazarus falls ill and dies, and Jesus, informed by the sisters, arrives in Bethany. Jesus orders the stone covering the entrance of Lazarus’ tomb to be removed and calls out, “Lazarus, come out!” The icon portrays Jesus extending His hand towards Lazarus, who rises from the tomb, still wrapped in burial garments. The sisters, Martha and Mary, are shown bowing before Christ in the foreground.
- Beheading of John the Baptist: Commemorated on August 29th, this feast remembers the martyrdom of John the Baptist. According to the biblical account, John’s execution was ordered by King Herod at the request of Herodias’ daughter. The icon portrays the moment when John’s head is presented on a platter to Herodias, while John’s disciples mourn his death.
- The Holy Prophet Elias: Celebrated on August 2nd (or July 20th), this feast honors the prophet Elijah, who lived during the reign of King Ahab and Queen Jezebel. The icon depicts Elijah’s ascent to heaven on a fiery chariot, witnessed by his disciple Elisha. Elijah is also associated with the prediction of a drought and his miraculous sustenance by ravens.
- Pokrov: This feast symbolizes the protection and intercession of the Mother of God and Saint Romanos the Melode. The icon depicts the apparition of the Blessed Mother in the Blachernae Church in Constantinople. She is shown holding a protective cloth over the faithful. Saint Romanos the Melode, a renowned poet in Byzantine literature, is also depicted in the icon.
- The Feast of the Cross/Exaltation of the Cross: Celebrated on September 27th (or September 14th), this feast commemorates the presentation of the Cross of the Lord to the people by Patriarch Makarios in the presence of Emperor Constantine and Empress Helena. Empress Helena is known for discovering the True Cross. The icon portrays the moment when a portion of the Cross and the nails are given to her, while the Cross itself is placed in a silver chest.
Poliment-gilded background with engraved ornaments.