2. december 2020
Feast of the icon: The Feast of the Holy Family is a liturgical celebration in the Catholic Church. The Feast is celebrated on the Sunday following Christmas, unless that Sunday is January 1st, in which case it is celebrated on December 30th.
Description of the icon:
We get a look at an interesting depiction of the Holy Family Icon, which is quite unusual in the East Orthodox Church. In the Eastern Orthodox Church, there is the term "Holy Family" used just to tag images of the Mary's parents - Joachim and Anna, early Christian martyrs - Sofia with three daughters - Faith, Nada and Lubov, or St. Eustace with his wife Theopistos and two sons: Agapios and Theopiste.
The reason why we cannot find this depiction of St. Joseph, St. Mary and the child Jesus, which is very popular with Catholics in the Eastern Christian Church is simple.
According to the established canon, they are not a family in the true sense of the word. Joseph was engaged to Mary, not married. Mary conceived from the Holy Spirit, so she is the Mother of God, who remained a virgin throughout her life, and Joseph is therefore not the father of Jesus, but only a guardian.
We can therefore assume, that the creator was not fully familiar with the restrictive rules of writing icons. That is why gestures and colors cannot be strictly judged solely from the point of view of the East Orthodox Church code. It is all the more appropriate to ascribe to each character the meaning resulting from the use of Catholic sacral paintings. The painting comprises a combination of several styles. On one hand, it includes certain features of icons. On the other hand, it same looks like a classical painting.
The ambiguous character of the painting could perhaps raise doubts in the casual observer about its artistic and spiritual value. On this spot, however, it is necessary to take into account the uniqueness of the work. If the viewer looks closely at the characters, he can gradually reveal a deep message in their poses and expressions.
The white color of Mary's dress means her innocence. She stands on a cloud indicating heavenly glory. The Mother of God has a golden crown on her head because she became the queen by her Son. Her long emerald green cloak covers the top of her head and extends to her ankles. Veiled hair was a necessity for married women, while the green color in Orthodoxy refers to The Holy Spirit that enveloped Mary with his favor.
She hugs on her hands a little Jesus. He is covered only with a piece of gold cloth, which indicates his divine origin and praise. However, she is not looking at the child. Her face is returned to the other side, and she seems to be looking down into the distance. In the Gospel of John, there we read: When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” So from that hour, this disciple took her into his home. (John 19:26-27) With these words, Mary became the mother of all mankind. She looks at all worshippers and shows them the rosary, the prayer that leads to Christ.
St. Joseph is depicted at a mature age based on references from the Gospels and certain apocryphal writings (History of Joseph the Carpenter, Protoevangelium of James). According to Jewish tradition, Mary's groom was supposed to be chosen from the widows. He holds a lily in his hand. It is not only a sign of purity but also of character. When he got news about Mary's pregnancy, he hesitated to release her, but finally, he obeyed God's angel: But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins. (Matthew 1:20-21) The white cloak on his shoulders refers to his blamelessness.
A square in his left hand refers to the Evangelion verses: Coming to his hometown, he began teaching the people in their synagogue, and they were amazed. “Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers?” they asked. “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary, and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas? (Matthew 13:54-55)
And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ. So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; and from David until the carrying away into Babylon are fourteen generations; and from the carrying away into Babylon unto Christ are fourteen generations. Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily. But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins. Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name Jesus. (Matthew 1:16-25)