4. may 2019
IN THEE REJOICES (O tebi radujetsja)
Russia; circa 1800; 70 x 57 cm
The feast of the Icon: 26th of Decembre
Prayer tradition: The believers celebrate the Holy Mother of God by praying in front of the icon
This motive is one of the most popular in the russian art of iconography from the end of the 15th century. It first appeard in the Pskov region.
DESCRIPTION OF THE ICON
The composition of the icon is an interpretation of the hymn of Saint John of Damascus from the Divine Liturgy of Saint Basil the Great: "In you, Gracious, all the creatures and crowds of angels rejoice, and the generation of men. You are a sacred temple, you are a spiritual paradise, you are an ornament of virgins. For God has received the flesh from you; God Himself, who is before all ages, became a child. He has made a throne out of your lap and spread your life beyond the heavens. In you, Gracious, rejoice all creatures. Glory to you."
In the centre of the icon is the Mother of God with the child Christ. She is sitting on the throne surrounded by a dark blue round nimbus with cherubs and seraphs. This dark blue colour (in some cases teal) is a symbol of God's mystery, mystical depth and in the midst of this mystery - in the heart of the deity, is the throne of God's Mother and Son, because incarnation has its source in God's love. There you have to start reading the icon. Around the dark nimbus, another semicircle is formed with angels in human form in the foreground with the archangels Gabriel and Michael, who are closest to the mystery of the Incarnation.
At the top of the icon sits a dominant temple, painted with olive-green and and purple. The temple has many vaults, windows, and nine domes, that, according to the Byzantine symbolism, portray the nine angelic churches; and with the blessing Lord of Hosts in the light of His divine glory. This spacious composition is located in the "Garden of Eden", as it is said in the hymn, in the symbol of innocent and harmonious nature - the symbol of Mary. The garden is surrounded by a perfect circle. It touches the ground below, but at the same time it appears naturally in space. In this way the Heaven is depicted or heavenly Jerusalem - the place of hope and desire of the human race.
At the root of the throne are united the saints, from both sides turned to the centre. On the left, under the throne, Saint John of Damascus with a unpacked scroll where the words of the hymn are written. Under the footstool of the Holy Mother of God stands a winged angel of the desert, Saint John the Baptist with a scroll in his hand, on which is written, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near!" and other righteous of Old and New Testament. A group of nuns can be seen at the front right. Still below, two dense crowds of saints gathered to address the Mother of God. Above the left group of saints is the penitent sinner Dismas and the true king David is above the right group, from whose tribe the Holy Mother of God comes. Down in the middle are the souls of innocents and tortured children. The whole crowd of saints presents all the people called to see the beautiful heavenly Jerusalem.
SPIRITUAL HERITAGE OF THE ICON
The icon is a celebration of the Mother of God chosen by God for his plan of salvation. Although believers do not ask for anything, Mother of God embraces them with her grace. The warm prayer in front of the icon cleanses, enlightens and sanctifies.