Russian Icon

19th century

Cardinal Feast Days

Egg tempera and gold leaf
on wood panel
12" x 14"



The Cardinal Feast Days are the major feast days that commemorate events in the lives of Christ and
the Virgin Mary. By participating in these feasts each believer relives the great events of the Gospels
and of Church history, and in this way goes through a school of spiritual growth, calculated according
to the Old Testament lunar calendar. Surrounding a depiction of The Resurrection (Pascha) and the
Descent into Hades are 12 scenes. From upper left clockwise:

1. Nativity of Mary- (Theotokos) The importance of this feast, the first in the Church calendar year
is that it was the first step in preparing mankind for its promised salvation. September 21

2. Presentation of the Holy Virgin into the Temple- When Mary was three years old her parents
brought her to the Temple where she stayed for the next 12 years. December 4

3. Annunciation- (Blagovescheniye) And the angel came in unto her and said, "Hail, thou who art
highly favored, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women." It is of such great importance
that it is still celebrated even if it coincides with Holy Friday or Pascha. April 7

4. The Nativity of Christ- (Christmas) January 7

5. Baptism of Our Lord- God the Holy Spirit descended as a dove upon the Savior of the world.
That is why this feast day is called Theophany - the manifestation of God to man. January 19

6. Transfiguration- An important concept in Russian spirituality. Jesus was surrounded by a light on
Mt. Tabor and visited by Moses and Elijah. A highly developed individual might see that light of
Transfiguration that the cosmos will return to at the end of creation. August 19

7. Dormition of the Holy Virgin- (Uspenie) The Passing of Mary is not a sad event, but a joyous one.
Her death is but a short sleep, after which follows her resurrection and ascension to heaven. August 28

8. Elevation of The Cross- In Roman times The Cross was an instrument of shameful death, after
Golgotha it became the symbol of salvation and victory. September 27

9. Holy Trinity- God the Holy Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit- June 7

10. Pentecost- Mary and other women hear a rushing wind, are filled the Holy Spirit and begin to
converse in other languages- 10th day after The Ascension

11. Entrance of the Lord Into Jerusalem- Riding a donkey Christ enters the city- Last Sunday of Lent

12. Presentation of Jesus in the Temple- According to the law of Moses, every firstborn male was to
be brought into the temple to be dedicated to God on the fortieth day after birth- February 15th