On the back of this icon, a label identifies it as "Saint
Athanasios, Macedonia." However it is incorrectly identified.
This icon actually depicts Saint Nicholas, one of the most venerated
miracle-working saints. "Macedonia" on the label likely
means it was originally purchased from there or in the area.
Saint Nicholas, also known as Nicholas
of Myra, is one of the most well known and popular saints. Peasants
said that when God grew too old and died, Nicholas would take
over. When the Tartars attacked Mozhaisk, he appeared in the
air above the attackers, sword in hand, and saved the city. He
healed the blind, saved the drowned, and exorcised Demons. He
is the patron saint of Russia, travelers and seafarers. He is
usually depicted holding the Gospels, flanked on one side by
the Mother of God and on the other by Jesus. However,
in this icon he is depicted standing alone. In iconography, he
"...in episcopal vestments, wearing
a cross adorned omphorion, giving benediction and holding
the Gospel. The firmness of the face, the high, furrowed forehead,
the large concentrating eyes accentuated by thick eyebrows, and
the short beard represent Nicholas as a stout defender of the
Christian faith against heresy, as well as an exorcist and healer."
A nobleman fallen on hard times had
no dowry for his 3 daughters. Hearing of their despair, Nicholas
dropped a bag of coins in one of the girl's windows at night.
The next night he repeated the act in another girl's windows.
The third night, he found all the windows locked, so he threw
money down the chimney, where it fell into the girls' stockings
drying there. He is beloved by children and known as Nicholas
the Miracle Worker.
Tradigo, A. (2004) Icons and Saints
of the Eastern Orthodox Church. Translation: Sartarelli, S. 2006
Los Angeles, California: Getty Publications, J. Paul Getty Museum.