ICONOGRAPHY OF THE MOTHER OF GOD: TYPES, MEANING, SYMBOLISM
THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY IS REVERED THROUGHOUT THE WORLD AS THE COMFORTER IN SORROW, THE PROTECTOR OF THE AFFLICTED, THE INFIRM AND THE WEAK, THE INTERCESSOR OF SINNERS AND THE INTERCESSOR BEFORE THE LORD. THEY ENTRUST THEIR SOULS TO HER, THEY ASK HER FOR HELP IN DIFFICULT LIFE SITUATIONS, EVEN THOSE WHO DESPAIR AND DESPAIR RELY ON HER MERCY AND GENTLENESS. HOWEVER, IT IS DIFFICULT FOR A PERSON TO CRY OUT TO AN INVISIBLE IMAGE - AND ICONS DEDICATED TO THE HEAVENLY QUEEN COME TO THE RESCUE. SHE APPEARS ON THEM IN VARIOUS GUISES - AS THE MOTHER OF GOD OF ORANTA, ELEUSIS, HODIGITRIA... WHAT DO THESE SHRINES REPRESENT? READ OUR ARTICLE AND FIND OUT. And if you want to buy a unique icon made of amber, check out the entire assortment on the ukrburshtyn.com website.
ICONOGRAPHY OF THE MOTHER OF GOD - PECULIARITIES AND CHARACTERISTIC FEATURES
ACCORDING TO CHRISTIAN LEGEND, THE FIRST IMAGES WERE PAINTED BY THE APOSTLE LUKE - IN ADDITION TO HIS MEDICAL WORK, HE ALSO POSSESSED THE ART OF A PAINTER, AND ONCE HE ASKED THE MOTHER OF GOD FOR PERMISSION TO DEPICT HER FACE. THE VIRGIN MARY GAVE HER CONSENT, AND SO THE TRADITION OF PAINTING RELICS WAS BORN. SINCE THAT TIME, MORE THAN 800 DIFFERENT SHRINES OF THE QUEEN OF HEAVEN HAVE BEEN CREATED, ALTHOUGH NOT ALL OF THEM ARE LISTED IN ORTHODOX LITURGICAL BOOKS. HOWEVER, MASTERS ALWAYS TRIED TO DEPICT THE GOODNESS, CHASTITY, MODEST BEAUTY, MAJESTY AND BOUNDLESS COMPASSION OF THE MOTHER OF GOD.
AS A RULE, IN ORTHODOX IMAGES, THE IMMACULATE VIRGIN APPEARS FULL OF BRIGHT SORROW. BUT IN THIS FEELING THERE IS ALSO A BIT OF HOPE, FAITH IN RESURRECTION AND ETERNAL LIFE. IN ADDITION, WISDOM, STRENGTH AND SPIRITUAL SUPPORT, ALIENATION, INSPIRATION AND SUBTLE LYRICISM EMANATE FROM HER. THE MASTER CAN DEPICT THE MADONNA BOWING TO THE BABY SAVIOR OR BLESSING HIM (THE ICON OF THE MOTHER OF GOD "ORANTA" IS MADE IN A SIMILAR MANNER).
WHAT ELEMENTS MAKE IT POSSIBLE TO DISTINGUISH THE SHRINES OF THE VIRGIN FROM OTHER RELICS? FIRST OF ALL, THIS DESIGNATION IS THE GREEK LETTERS ΜΠ ΘY DRAWN NEXT TO THE FIGURE. THIS IS HOW IT IS CUSTOMARY TO ABBREVIATE THE EXPRESSION ΜΗΤΕΡ ΘΕΟΥ, WHICH MEANS MOTHER OF GOD. SOMETIMES CHURCH SLAVONIC LETTERS MN BZHN CAN ALSO BE PRESENT ON THE IMAGE. THE NIMBUS OF THE VIRGIN MARY, UNLIKE THE NIMBUS OF JESUS CHRIST, DOES NOT HAVE AN INSCRIBED CROSS.
THE CLOTHES OF THE HEAVENLY QUEEN ARE ALSO IMPORTANT. HER MAPHORIUM (A SQUARE CAPE THAT COVERS THE HEAD AND THE WHOLE FIGURE) IS TRADITIONALLY MADE IN DARK RED TONES, WHICH REMIND US OF THE ROYAL ORIGIN OF THE MADONNA AND THE SUFFERINGS SHE ENDURED. ITS EDGES ARE DECORATED WITH A GOLDEN BORDER AND FRINGE - A SIGN OF THE DIGNITY OF THE MOTHER OF GOD, WHICH SYMBOLIZES HER STAY IN THE LORD'S LIGHT, AND THE BLUE OR BLUE COLOR OF THE LOWER TUNIC REPRESENTS THE PERFECT PURITY AND CHASTITY OF THE VIRGIN MARY. AND THE STARS ON THE ROBES ARE THE EMBLEM OF THE HOLY TRINITY.
BUT, ALTHOUGH SIMILAR FEATURES CAN BE SEEN ON ALL THE RELICS OF THE MOST HOLY VIRGIN, THERE ARE ALSO SIGNIFICANT DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THEM. DEPENDING ON THIS, EXPERTS DISTINGUISH DIFFERENT TYPES OF SHRINES. THE MOST FAMOUS OF THEM ARE "ELEUS" (TRANSLATED FROM GREEK, THIS WORD MEANS "LOVELY" OR "TENDERNESS"), "HODIGITRIA" ("SHOWING THE WAY") AND "ORANTA" (THIS VARIETY IS ALSO KNOWN AS THE ICON OF THE MOTHER OF GOD "SIGN") . SOMETIMES THE LIST IS SUPPLEMENTED WITH THE IMAGES OF "PANAHRANT" ("ALL-MERCIFUL") AND "AGIOSORTISSA" ("INTERCESSOR").
WHAT DOES THE SHRINE "EMOTION" REPRESENT?
RELICS MADE IN THE MANNER OF "ELEUS" (IN GREEK ART THEY CAN ALSO BE CALLED "GLYCOPHILUSSA", I.E. "SWEET KISS"), ARE AMONG THE MOST POPULAR AMONG THE PEOPLE. IT IS NOT SURPRISING, BECAUSE THEY ARE IMBUED WITH FEELINGS OF TENDERNESS, AFFECTION, KINDNESS AND COMPASSION.
A CHARACTERISTIC FEATURE OF THIS ICONOGRAPHIC TYPE IS THE BABY JESUS, WHO RESTED HIS LEFT CHEEK ON THE RIGHT CHEEK OF THE MOST HOLY VIRGIN. THE LACK OF DISTANCE BETWEEN THEM SYMBOLIZES THE LORD'S LOVE FOR THE ENTIRE HUMAN RACE, REMINDS US OF HIS SACRIFICE FOR THE SALVATION OF ALL MANKIND. THIS IS HOW THE MASTERS MANAGED TO SHOW THE UNITY OF THE EARTHLY AND HEAVENLY, SPIRITUAL AND MATERIAL.
WHAT DOES THE ICON OF THE MOTHER OF GOD "MERCY" HELP WITH? IT HELPS STRENGTHEN FAITH, RELIEVES THE SOUL OF DISAPPOINTMENT, APATHY, SORROW, AND SOULLESSNESS. PRAYING IN FRONT OF SUCH IMAGES, THEY ASK FOR TREATMENT FROM AILMENTS OF THE CARDIOVASCULAR SYSTEM, RECONCILIATION OF ENEMIES, SOFTENING OF ENVIOUS PEOPLE AND ILL-WISHERS. THIS RELIC HELPS TO MAKE A LIFE-IMPORTANT DECISION, GIVES HAPPINESS IN MARRIAGE AND OVERSHADOWS THE HOUSE WITH GRACE.
THIS VARIETY INCLUDES SUCH VENERATED SHRINES AS THE POCHAIV, VOLODYMYR, AND KORSUN ICONS OF THE MOTHER OF GOD, THE RELICS "IT IS WORTHY," "THE PLAY OF THE INFANT," AND "RECOVERY OF THE DEAD," AS WELL AS THE DON, PETROV, FEODOROV, AND YAROSLAVL ICONS.
Image of the Mother of God "Hodigitria" ("Showing the Way")
On similar relics, the Queen of Heaven holds Jesus in her arms, His face is turned to the viewer, one hand of the Son of God is folded in a blessing gesture, and in the other a compressed scroll is a sign of His teaching. The hand of the Virgin Mary points to the Savior, calling all believers to worship the Lord, who opened the way for people to escape from death. Both figures are depicted frontally (facing the viewer). Most often, such shrines are lumbar, but there are also shoulder and height versions.
The symbolism of these relics is radically different from the meaning of the icon of the Mother of God "Emotion". Here, the center of the composition is Jesus Christ, who appears as the Almighty (Pantokrator), the Heavenly King and Judge. Such shrines remind of the righteous Christian path, help with personal or professional difficulties, and subdue longing and sadness. They are used to bless newborns and newlyweds - it is believed that then grace will accompany them throughout their lives.
The Georgian, Iversky, Jerusalem, Kazan, Smolensk, Tikhvin, and Częstochowa images of the Queen of Heaven, as well as the icons "The Healer", "The Three-Handed One", and "The Quick Obedient" were painted in this manner.
Symbolism of the "Oranta" or "Sign" relic
The gesture of intercessory prayer depicted on these shrines (arms raised and spread to the sides, palms facing outwards) is very ancient. It is described in the Old Testament books, and the first such images of the Immaculate Virgin are found already in the Roman catacombs. The mosaic of the 11th century was also made in this manner. in Kyiv's Sophia Cathedral. Later, on the background of the figure of the Queen of Heaven, the image of the Savior Emmanuel (the face of Jesus Christ as a teenager) began to be depicted.
The icon of the Mother of God "The Sign", the meaning of which serves as a reminder of the Second Coming, and also represents the constant intercessory prayer of the Virgin Mary for all people. Therefore, such relics are also known as the "Unbreakable Wall".
What does the icon "Sign of the Holy Mother of God" help with? A sincere prayer to the relic can protect your home and family from any threat, save you from temptations, and save you from even the most serious diseases.
The most famous shrines of this type are Kursk, Novgorod, Nicaea, Yaroslavl, the iconography of the Feasts of the Intercession and Ascension, the relics "Undrinkable Chalice" and "Unbreakable Wall".
And our Yantar Polissya online store will help you purchase images made of natural solar gems! The shrines presented here are distinguished by their high quality, spirituality and expressiveness, so they will be a great addition to your home iconostasis.