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In this icon’s center sits the Virgin Mary just as she sat at the Annunciation. Her raised and open hand signifies her acceptance, submission, and modesty. Above her is the Young Christ. Both are surrounded by blue shoots reminding us of the tree of Jesse which the Virgin and thereby Christ were from on earth, and also the Tree of Life which is Christ God, with the Mother of God being a vine or blossom. Around them are eleven Old Testaments prophets (clockwise from the upper right corner): Ezekiel with a closed gate, Jacob with a ladder, Gideon with fleece, Daniel with a mountain, Isaiah with tongs, Barlaam pointing to the star, David with the Ark of the Covenant, Moses with the burning bush, Aaron with a blooming staff, Jeremiah with the Law’s stone tablets, and Habakkuk with a mountain. All the symbols prefigured the Virgin Birth with a half-length image of the Theotokos on them.
The medallions are blue, the color of the church vestments used on the feasts of the Virgin. Along the border of the icon are twenty-four scenes from the Akathist Hymn to the Mother of God about the Virgin’s life and the miracles of God.
|Movable Church Feast Day 1
5th Saturday in Great Lent
Russian Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia
16th c. (Mid)