Although Michael is considered to be theleading Archangel who fights against the powers of evil, this image depicts gentleness,humility and obedienceto God the Father,creator of all things in heaven and on earth.combines2 prototypes.One from the Andrey Rublev (Rublyov) Deesis group of Zvenigorodand the other from the ‘Deesis’ or ‘Supplication’groupfrom the RublevSchoolfollowing the traditions of Vladimir Suzdal.
MOSES AND THE BURNING BUSH
"And Moses said "Here I am"."Do not come any closer" God said"Take off your sandals,for the place where you are standingis holy ground".Exodus 3:4-5Prototype early thirteenth century,now at the Holy Monastery of Saint Catherine, Sinai, Egypt.
Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah:“Leave here, turn eastward and hidein the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan.You will drink from the brook andI have ordered the ravens to feed you there.”1 Kings 17:2-4 Prototype from an Icon dated from 1050-1100AD now located in St. Catherine Monastery, Sinai, Egypt
JOHN THE BAPTIST
This is he who was spoken of through the Prophet Isaiah:"A voice calling in the desert, 'Prepare the way for the Lord,make straight paths for him.' "Matthew 3:3"Many will rejoice in his birth" said Gabriel,"and he shall be great before the Lord."As a grown man it was John who prepared many in Israel for the appearance of the Messiahby baptizing them in the Jordan and it wasJohn who first recognized Jesus as the Messiah,confessing that he was not worthy to untie His sandal."Jim Forest Praying with Icons
prototype from a 13th c. Byzantine image.I believe he carries a simple and powerful message to each viewer.“Do not be afraid, God is with us.”
"Just as Eve, wife of Adam, yet still a virgin...became by her disobedience, the cause of death for herself and the whole human race, so Mary, too, espoused yet a virgin, became by her obedience the cause of salvation for herself and the whole human race...And so it was that the knot of Eve's disobedience was loosed by Mary's obedience."Saint Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyon, Late Second CenturyYou formed my inward parts;you knitted me together in my mothere's womb.My frame was not hidden from you:when I was being made in secret, intricatelywoven in the depths of the earth.Your eyes saw my unformed substance;Psalm 139: 13,15,16Prototype is the Annunciation of Novgorod schoolend of the 12th century to the beginning of the 13th century from St. Georges monastery at Novgorodnow at the state Tretyakov gallery, Moscow
THE NATIVITY OF OUR LORD
The Star and Orb in this icon symbolize Godentering into the darkness of this world with theLight of the Christ Child.The word became fleshand made his dwelling among us.John 1:14In him was life and that lifewas the light of men.The light shines in the darkness,but the darkness has not understood it.John 1:4-5
MOTHER AND CHILD
In Eastern Christianity,Mary is called the Theotokos, (Greek)which means God-Bearer.She is the one who containedHim whom the universe could not contain.The star symbolizes her miraculous virginity.(prototype from the Virgin of TendernessRussian Icon from the 17th c. now in a private collection in Lebanon)
Now there was a man in Jerusalemwho was righteous and devout.He was waiting for the consolation of Israel,and the Holy Spirit was upon him.It had been revealed to himby the Holy Spiritthat he would not die beforehe had seen the Lord's Christ. Luke 2:25-26An unfurled scroll in the hand of a prophet has an inscription of a prophetic text pointing forward to fulfillment in Christ.Jesus holds a closed scroll.He is the Word of God, a Sacred Mystery.Prototype second half of the 16th century, CreteNow at the Holy Monastery of Saint Catherine, Sinai, Egypt
VIRGIN OF VLADIMIR
The original Virgin of Vladimir, written in about 1137, is the oldest surviving icon brought from Byzantium to Russia. It has endured numerous disasters. When the Cathedral where it was housed was burnt by Muslim tartars in 1237, the image was badly damaged, although the faces remained intact. Later the icon was placed in the Moscow Kremlin as asymbol of the Russian Orthodox faith. In December 1918, it was forcibly removed from its jeweled shrine by the Bosheviks and shipped to a studio for scientific tests and restoration. Now considered a national treasure, the Virgin of Vladimir is under glass in the Tretyakov Gallery, where it is still one of the most loved and venerated Orthodox Icons. This powerful image has inspired many iconographic variants. I have tried to capture as accurately as possible what the original prototype communicates to the viewer. As Jesus looks lovingly into the eyes of the grace-filled mother He has chosen, she in turn looks out to all humanity, pondering the fearsome miracle of His perfection. Her tender embrace acknowledges the honor He gives her, as she looks to the viewer with sorrow and humility. Does she see humanity through the compassionateforgiving eyes of her child Jesus and say, “Once He touches your heart, you too will never be the same”? I look into her anguish and courage with awe and know because she was blessed, so am I.
BETRAYAL KISS OF JUDAS
...are you betraying the Son of man with a kiss?In the language of Iconography, a traitor or unbeliever is shown in profile. It depicts a person whohas not yet believed or has turned away from God.Prototype is a detail combined from 14th century fresco,Vatopaidi Monastery Mount Athos, Greece and a 1295 fresco,Churuch of St. Clement (Virgin Peribleptos), Ochrid
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to Him.He was despised and rejected by men,A man of sorrows,and familiar with suffering.Like one from whom men hide their faceshe was despised,And we esteemed him not.Isaiah 53: 2-3Modeled after a 14th century Balkans Icon that isnow located in the Tretyakov Gallery Moscow.
This is a detail from a specific type ofLamentation Icon that depicts only Jesus’ motherMary cradling his body.It is know as Pieta (Italian for “pity”).
This image depicts Mother Mary grieving the death of her son Jesus. She held him in her arms so often and now on Holy Saturday, her arms are empty. We all have an emptiness inside that only Jesus can fill.
Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she weptshe stooped to look into the tomb, and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” Saying this, she turned round and saw Jesus standing,but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom do you seek?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.Jesus said to her “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Do not hold me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father:but go to my brethren and say to them,I am ascending to my Father and your Father,to my God and your God.” John 20:11-17 RSV
Prototype is a 13th century mosaicfrom Hagia Sophia, Istanbul.In this image, Christ looks at youin judgment with one eye,and with the other eyeHe turns away in mercy.
FIVE WISE VIRGINS
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.Psalm 119:105Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man comes. Matthew 25:13
CHRIST THE HEALER
In this new icon, inspired by the Biblical passage, Luke 8:40-56, Jesus brings Jairus’ daughter back to life. He now looks at us with His blessing hand extended. Gold represents the heavenly kingdom. The red and blue in Christ’s garment represent His divinity and humanity.The girl wears a green shawl, symbolizing life, which reminds us of the hope we have praying for others in intercessory prayer. Divine proportion of the spiral inspired the visual placement of Jesus, His hand and the girl. The spiral begins with the child, expands out to Christ and on to the Heavenly dwelling place of God. Each of us is a child in God’s eyes. His healing, saving love, and tender mercies toward you and me are new every morning. His Grace for us is infinite. “Heal me Lord and I will be healed; save me and I will be saved for You are the One I praise.” Jeremiah 17:14
SINAI CHRIST PANTOCRATOR
Pantocrator means “Ruler of All.”The prototype used for this icon dates back to the 6th century. Divinely protected through wars and iconoclasm, it is the oldest surviving icon of Christ Pantocrator. Affectionately called “the Sinai Christ,”it is now a sacred treasure of visual theology atSt. Catherines’s Monastery in the Sinai desert.This image holds, in beautiful tension, foundational truths of Christianity:Dark and Light, Earth and Heaven,Time and Eternity, Law and Grace,Judgment and Mercy,Theses truths are seamlessy joined together inJesus the Christ, who is Ruler of All.BLESSED SILENCE /HOLY WISDOM“In the beginning was the Word, and the Wordwas with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.” John 1:1-2The Day of Eternity signifies that which preceded the Creation and which follows it. So Christ as Angel is also understood as an eternal figure, the Logos (Word/Reason) of God. “For a child has been born for us, a son given to us: Authoity rests upon his shoulders: and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6 In Greek, “Wonderful Counselor” is translated as “the messenger of Great Counsel’. The Greek word for messenger can also mean angel. “He was oppessed, and he was afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; Like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.” Isaiah 53:7.So Chirst was silent. And Christ the Angel of Great Counsel is the Son begotten in the Silence of Eternity.OUR LADY OF GUADALUPEThis is a study of the original image, not a traditional Othodox icon but still, a holy image with deep meaning around the world. It was a joy to enter into the unique language of this miraclulous vision, not made with human hands.