Gallery Icon of the Nursing Mother of God

6. january 2020


The oldest icons named Mother of God Nursing, date back to the 6th century and are now located on Mount Sinai in the Monastery of St. Catherine and in the Chilandar Monastery on the Mountain of Athos. It was brought to Athos by the Holy Sava of Serbia in the 13th century along with the icon of the Three-handed Mother of God, and was originally owned by the monastic order near Jerusalem. Newer icons can be seen in the Moscow Kremlin at the Cathedral of the Annunciation and Kremlin Armoury. Also in Odessa Saint-Uspensky man's monastery. In Greece it is located in a man's monastery near the town of Megara.

This is a rare type of icon because it has a very intimate yet deeply theological character. It very gently and specifically represents the meaning of the Incarnation and both of the dual nature of the Son of God. He became a man, took the body of the Pure Virgin and became like every human child, and through her breasts he meets all mankind. Our icon comes from Russia. It was written in 1817 and originally had okhlad. It represents the seated Mother of God. She holds the Son of God on the left forearm and feeds him with breast milk. She softly caresses his leg with her right hand. Her head is slightly tilted towards the baby. This gesture reveals a motherly heart absolutely committed and determined to protect and care for the defenseless child. He holds on to her breast with both hands and relaxes happily and tranquilly in her mother's arms. The Son of God has a cross nimbus around his head with the letters of the Greek alphabet omega, omikron, nu, which signify the Old Testament God's name "I am who I am." His face is in the Greek image of Christ Emanuel, "God with us." Above nimbus are the initials of the New Testament God's Name Isus Christos IC XC. The boy's undergarment is purple and the top is red gold-plated. These are the colors of God's glory, His brightness, and the colors of the earthly monarchs and kings. They symbolize the noble origin of the child. The garment of the Holy Mother also confirms Divine Majesty. She is clad in purple robes richly gilded as a symbol of her profound spiritual life and of experiencing the relationship with the Father and the Holy Spirit. Undergarment complements the beauty of the Pure Virgin. It is blue, densely embroidered with stars and lined with a purple band and pearls. They are symbols of the spiritual world, innocence, wisdom, spiritual beauty and perfection. The pink-red head cover is adorned with pearls and ornaments all around. Pink in iconography represents joy. This icon represents not only the joy of the mother, but also the joy of all humanity. The holy Mother of God, looking at us, invites everyone to experience the joy of salvation, the joy of God's child, the joy of her maternal care.

The symbols of the Blessed Virgin also include three stars confirming her virginity. Two on the shoulders and one on the head. The title of the icon "Blessed Crevo" (Blessed womb) on the left is linked to the text of the Gospel of St. Luke: “Blessed is the mother who gave you birth and nursed you”(Luke 11:27).


O Jesus, Son of God, and you, O Mother Mary, you desire that whatever you love should be loved by us. Therefore, O good Son, by the love you bear your Mother, to grant to me that I may truly love her. And you, O Good Mother, I beg you by the love that you bear your Son, to pray for me that I may truly love him. Behold, I ask nothing that is not in accordance with your will. Since this is in your power, will my sins prevent this being accomplished? O Jesus, lover of all, you were able to love criminals and even to die for them. Can you, then, refuse me, who asks only the love of You and your Mother? And you, too, Mary, Mother of Him who loved us, who did bear Him in your womb, and feed Him at your breast, are you not able to obtain for one who asks it the love of your Son and yourself?

May my mind venerate you both as you deserve. May my heart love you as it should. May my body serve you as it ought. In your service may my life be spent. Blessed be God forever. Amen, amen.