28. july 2019
The image depicts a lying Virgin on a richly decorated bed, dressed in a purple cloak. Her eyes are closed, her hands rest on her heart. Mary is subject to natural laws. “Ever since the Lord of Nature has not escaped death, it is advisable to put aside what is mortal and put on immortality. In fact, He dies according to the flesh and overcomes death with death, grants continuity to what was disrupted and makes death the source of resurrection” (Tropar).
Behind the body of the Mother of God is present the Son of God in the mandorla and accompanied by the angels of the Lord. Above His head is the cherub, the guardian of the gate to the Paradise. Surrounded by angels, Christ descends to earth and carries his Mother's soul to heavenly glory. He is dressed in gold robes. One hand blesses his Mother and invites her to heaven, and the other holds her soul, like a new-born wrapped in white cloth. Above her sanctuary is the inscription "holy soul." Above the bed of the Virgin, there is an incense of a prayer that she sent to her Son: "My Lord Jesus Christ, with your sovereign goodness you have made me worthy of giving You birth; hear my prayer and send me your apostle John, make me happy to see him again. And send me the rest of your apostles - those who have returned home to You, and those who are still at this age wherever they are on earth. May they return to me upon Your command, that I may see them, and I will bless Your glorious name. I firmly believe that you will hear your servant in everything. And she has not yet finished her prayer, and I, John, have already appeared before her. ”(From the Apocrypha of St. John theologian). At the request of the Virgin, John also lit the incense and prayed with her. Similarly (according to the Apocrypha) delighted by the Holy Spirit, the angels also bring other Apostles whose presence the Virgin rejoices, and they announce to her where the Holy Spirit brought them: John from Ephesus, Peter from Rome, Paul from Tiber, Thomas from India, James from Jerusalem, Bartholomew from Thebes, Matthew was on the boat. Similarly, those who were already dead said how they came. Together they burned incense and prayed.
From the right side of the bed are depicted the apostles: St Peter, St Philip, Archangel Michael, above them in the second row are the Apostle St Matthew, St James son of Zebedee, St John the Evangelist, in the third row above them from left St Thomas the Patriarch and St James the Patriarch, in the background a crowd of righteous people. From the left side of the bed there are: St Paul, St Andrew and Archangel Gabriel. Above them are St Dionysus the Aerophagia, St Jude the Apostle, the Apostle and the Evangelist Matthew, Simon the Zealot, the Apostle St Bartholomew, above them the Patriarch Erophei. In the background are the holy virgins. The Apostles are brought by angels on the clouds to help Mary's passage into heaven and to witness her glory. In front of the Virgin's bed, according to the "Legend of the Defamator" (originated in the Apocrypha), the priest Jeconiah, sent by the Jewish Pharisees and scribes, threw himself against the body of the Virgin and threw her bed to the ground. Against him is Archangel Michael and his sword cuts his hands. He remained crippled until his spirit turned to faith and repentance and began to praise the Mother of God. Then St Peter healed his hands. The symbolic meaning of the episode points to the dignity of the Mother of God, which is under the protection of the Almighty. Neither evil nor hatred can touch her; she is totally consecrated to God, who protects her as was protecting the Ark of the Covenant from every reproach.
At the upper part of the icon, two angels lift the Virgin to heaven. She is dressed in a red maforion and blue himation. The three stars on her maforion and the golden halo in the triple circle indicate the heavenly glory of the Holy Trinity. Thus, the virgin entered into the inexpressible mystery of Him with whom she was connected during her earthly existence. She sits on the throne of the Queen of Heaven, which has seven legs, the sign of the seven gifts of the Holy Ghost, whom Mary was fully filled with, the symbol of perfection and wisdom of the kingdom of heaven. „Wisdom has built her house, she has set up its seven pillars“ (Proverbs, 9:1). In front of the gate of heaven there is a congregation of angels that are ready to open the gate to the Virgin.
The background of the icon as well as all the characters are highlighted in golden colour, a sign of eternity, the supernatural world, God's glory and His brightness. The whole scene bears the seal of God's grandeur. In the background is a temple, a symbol of the heavenly Jerusalem. Three colours dominate the halls. Blue, red and pink. They are symbols of Heaven, the outburst of the Spirit and joy.
One of the apocrypha states that St Thomas the Apostle came to the funeral three days later and wanted to see the features of the Mother of God for the last time. When they opened the tomb, there were flowers instead.
The icon is a reflection of the mystery of faith. It is not subject to earthly laws, dimensions of space and constraints of time; it belongs to the heavenly world, to eternity. The mercy that belongs to the Blessed Mother is a confirmation of absolute respect for God the Creator, God the Redeemer and God the Comforter.
Egon Sendler: Byzantské ikony Božej Matky
Příběhy apoštolú, Novozákonní apokryfy II
Alekseev: Čudotvornyje ikony Presvjatoj Bogorodici