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 Russian Icon

18th century

Bishop's Dedication & Blessing of
a Russian Orthodox Church.

Depiction of a Tolgskaya Madonna at the center of the interior of the church.


Egg tempera on wood panel

24" x 43
1/2"


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Although most icons are created using previously designed templates, some were commissioned for particular churches. This unique icon depicts the blessing of a Tolgskaya Madonna, and was made for a particular church.

The image of the Tolgskaya Madonna was said to have appeared to Bishop Prohoriy near midnight in the year 1314. He saw it floating in a column of light beyond the river. He crossed over a bridge leading tothe apparition and prayed before the image, leaving his staff there when he returned. Later, when servants were sent to retrieve the staff, they found the icon in the branches of a tree. A church was built to house the image, and in the year 1292 the icon began to exude fragrant healing oil ("myrrh"). The Christ child is on his mother's left; he appears as though clambering up her lap to place his right hand about her neck and his left hand against her breast. The Mother of God may be full-length or half-length. This is an good example of the "icon within an icon". The sumptuous garments and grand architecture emphasize the signifigance of the ceremony. The link between holiness and spendor or brilliance is charactaristic of many religious traditions.Two bishops stand on two orlets. An orlet (meaning eaglet), is a small rug, usually round, for an Orthodox bishop to stand on during services at which he officiates. The eagle depicted on the rug represents an eagle overlooking and hovering over a city, just as the bishop through his consecration is called to be an overseer of his city, the flock entrusted to his care. The graphic elements in the foreground are the Instruments of The Passion. The Patriarchal Cross of The Eastern Orthodox Church includes the top crossbar symbolizing the bearing the inscription "Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews". The slant of the bottom crossbar refers to the foot rest that pointed up for the repentant thief that ascended to heaven and down for the thief that mocked Christ and went to hell. The spear represents the Spear of Longinus, the Centurion who pierced Christ's side.On the other side is The Holy Sponge that was given to refresh Christ. The skull and crossbones at the foot of the cross symbolizes Golgotha- "The Place of the Skull". The skull is Adam's. The feast days of the Tolgskaya Madonna are August 8 and September 16.