Orthodox icon | Four field icon | 24825.
Mother of God of the Burning Bush (September 4) – The depiction of the burning bush that is not consumed symbolizes the Virgin Mother of God, who, though enveloped in divine fire, remains unharmed. In Russia, the icon takes on a complex representation as a profound expression of devotion to Mary. The Mother of God with Emmanuel is positioned within an eight-pointed star formed by two overlapping diamonds, resting upon a rosette.
Within the lower star are the symbols of the four evangelists, while angels with attributes derived from the Akathistos hymn adorn the rosette and upper points. This icon has been revered as a protective aid against lightning and fire, safeguarding homes and dwellings. The symbols of the evangelists are depicted as follows: the winged man represents Matthew, the lion represents Mark, the bull represents Luke, and the eagle represents John.
Mother of God of Feodor (March 14 and August 16) – This icon portrays the Mother of God holding the child on her right arm, following the Umilenie type developed in Byzantium during the 11th century. The Mother of God affectionately gazes at her child.
A unique feature of the Feodorovskaya icon is the exposed leg of the Christ child. On August 16, 1239, Prince Vasily of Kostroma witnessed the miraculous appearance of the Mother of God of Feodor during a hunting expedition.
The icon takes its name from the Church of Saint Theodore Stratelates in Kostroma. Notably, on March 14, 1613, Maria Ivanovna blessed her son, Mikhaíl Fyodorovich, in front of the Feodorovskaya icon, granting him consent to ascend the throne.
The Dormition Cathedral of the Feodorovsky Monastery, located in the area of Nizhny Novgorod (now Gorky), serves as the revered location for this icon. Among the icons in the Winter Palace of Petersburg, the Mother of God Feodorovskaya holds a place of great veneration by the Russian tsars.
The Beheading of Saint John (August 29) – Saint John the Baptist, known in the Orthodox Church as “the Forerunner,” holds significance as the one who baptized Christ and prepared the way for Him, as mentioned in Luke 1:76. In Matthew 3:2, it is described that he wore a garment of camel’s hair, and he is often depicted barefoot with a somewhat disheveled beard. Due to his rebuke of Herod and Herodias for their unlawful union (Matthew 14; Luke 3:18), he was imprisoned.
Thus, in the upper part of the icon, he is depicted in prison. The central scene portrays the executioner delivering the final blow, causing John’s body to fall to the ground while presenting his severed head to Salome, depicted on the right side of the icon.
This icon combines three scenes of the beheading into one image. The background features an architectural backdrop with reverse perspective. John is revered as the patron saint of monastic life. In the 14th chapter of the Gospel of Matthew, his martyrdom is described as follows: “…And he (Herod) would have killed him, but he feared the multitude because they counted him as a prophet… And he sent and beheaded John in the prison. And his head was brought on a platter and given to the girl.”
The Apostles Saints Peter and Paul (June 29) – This icon commemorates the revered apostles Peter and Paul. They are depicted together, symbolizing their pivotal roles in spreading the teachings of Christianity. Saint Peter, the first Pope, is recognized with keys, signifying his authority to bind and loose. Saint Paul, known for his missionary journeys and numerous epistles, is often depicted with a scroll or book. Their feast day is celebrated on June 29.
On the border of the icon, there are depictions of a saint (name illegible), Saint Venerable Matrona (November 9), Saint Catherine (November 24), and Saint Xenia (January 24).
Saint Venerable Matrona, also known as Matrona of Moscow, was a beloved and revered figure in Russian Orthodox Christianity. She was born in the village of Sebino in the Tula Province of Russia around the year 1881. Matrona’s life was marked by extraordinary faith, spiritual gifts, and a deep devotion to God.
From a young age, Matrona experienced numerous physical challenges, including the loss of her sight at the age of seven. Despite her blindness, she exhibited remarkable spiritual insight and clairvoyance. Matrona possessed the ability to see into the hearts and souls of those who sought her guidance, providing them with comfort, counsel, and healing.
Matrona dedicated her life to prayer, fasting, and selfless service to others. She became widely known for her profound humility, simplicity, and love for all people. People from all walks of life sought her intercession, seeking her prayers for healing, deliverance, and spiritual guidance.
Throughout her life, Saint Matrona remained rooted in her unwavering faith and trust in God. She lived in poverty, often giving away the little she had to those in need. Despite her own physical suffering, she radiated joy and peace, offering solace to those burdened by their troubles.
Saint Matrona passed away on May 2, 1952, in Moscow, but her influence and spiritual presence continue to be felt by countless believers. She was recognized as a saint by the Russian Orthodox Church in 1999. Today, Saint Matrona is venerated as a patroness of the blind, the sick, and those who seek her intercession for healing and guidance.
Her life serves as an inspiration, reminding us of the power of faith, humility, and selflessness in our journey towards God. Saint Matrona’s legacy lives on as a beacon of hope and a testament to the transformative power of God’s grace in the lives of His faithful.
Saint Catherine of Alexandria, also known as Catherine of the Wheel, is a revered saint in both the Eastern Orthodox and Western Christian traditions. She was born in the 3rd century AD, in Alexandria, Egypt, to noble parents.
From an early age, Catherine displayed exceptional intelligence and a thirst for knowledge. She received an excellent education in philosophy, rhetoric, and the arts, becoming known for her wisdom and eloquence. Despite her noble background, Catherine embraced a life of piety and dedicated herself to the Christian faith.
Catherine’s unwavering commitment to her beliefs led her to openly challenge the persecution of Christians under the Roman Emperor Maxentius. She fearlessly debated with scholars and philosophers, defending the Christian faith and converting many to Christianity through her persuasive arguments.
Emperor Maxentius, impressed by Catherine’s intellect and beauty, tried to sway her allegiance by offering wealth, power, and marriage. However, Catherine firmly refused his proposals, declaring her fidelity to Christ alone. Infuriated by her unwavering faith, the emperor ordered her imprisonment and torture.
According to tradition, Catherine endured various forms of torment, including being placed on a spiked wheel, hence her epithet “of the Wheel.” However, as the story goes, the wheel miraculously shattered upon her touch, sparing her from death. Undeterred by this failed execution, the emperor ultimately ordered her beheading.
Saint Catherine’s martyrdom is believed to have occurred around the year 305 AD. Her steadfast faith, courage, and intellectual prowess earned her a place among the revered saints of the Christian Church. She is celebrated as a patroness of scholars, students, philosophers, and theologians.
Iconography often depicts Saint Catherine as a young woman holding a martyr’s palm and a symbolic wheel. She is portrayed with a regal presence, representing her nobility of spirit and unwavering commitment to Christ. Her life and martyrdom serve as a powerful example of standing firm in faith, even in the face of adversity.
Saint Catherine’s feast day is observed on November 24, commemorating her martyrdom and celebrating her enduring legacy as a faithful witness to the truth and beauty of the Christian faith. Her life continues to inspire and guide believers to this day, encouraging them to embrace wisdom, courage, and unwavering devotion to God.
Saint Xenia of St. Petersburg, also known as Blessed Xenia of Petersburg, is a beloved saint in the Russian Orthodox Church. She was born in the late 18th century in St. Petersburg, Russia, and her life is shrouded in mystery and legends.
Xenia was married to a prominent army officer named Andrei Petrov. Tragically, her husband passed away suddenly, leaving her a young widow. Grief-stricken and seeking solace, Xenia underwent a profound spiritual transformation. She renounced her worldly possessions and began to lead an ascetic and wandering life.
From that point on, Xenia dedicated herself to a life of prayer, self-denial, and serving those in need. She became known for her selflessness and compassionate acts of charity towards the poor, the sick, and the homeless. Despite having no fixed abode, Xenia was revered for her wisdom and her ability to provide comfort and guidance to those who sought her help.
In her extraordinary devotion to Christ, Xenia embraced an unconventional way of life. She would wander the streets of St. Petersburg, dressed in her late husband’s military uniform, and would often speak in riddles or utter nonsensical phrases.
This behavior led many to consider her eccentric or even mad, but those who truly understood her recognized her as a holy fool, a person who transcended societal norms to pursue a life of divine devotion.
Throughout her life, Saint Xenia was known to perform miracles, bringing healing and comfort to those who sought her intercession. She became a spiritual patroness for those in despair, especially those who had lost loved ones or were burdened with heavy sorrows.
Saint Xenia passed away in 1803, and her grave at the Smolensk Cemetery in St. Petersburg became a site of pilgrimage and veneration. Countless people have reported receiving spiritual blessings and answered prayers through her intercession.
Today, Saint Xenia is widely venerated as a patroness of those seeking help in finding a spouse, of childless couples, and of those facing difficulties in their lives. Her feast day is celebrated on January 24, marking the anniversary of her repose.
The life of Saint Xenia serves as a testament to the transformative power of faith and the radical love of God. Her unconventional path and selfless devotion continue to inspire believers to live lives of compassion, humility, and trust in divine providence. Saint Xenia of St. Petersburg remains an enduring example of faithfulness and an intercessor for those who seek comfort and hope in times of adversity.