Gallery Russian icon, 19th century

10. april 2017

This huge icon (66x56,7 cm) comes from Russia, 19th century. The Icon demonstrates the scene of Crucifixion of Jesus Christ, the scene of Good Friday. Good Friday is the last day of Great Lent, a season which lasts for 40 days. It is the feast of Christ´s passion and death. On this day the fasting is very strict - it includes eucharist. The same way crucified Jesus felt the seclusion from his father and the deepest humiliation, we are secluded from eucharist – Christ´s body and blood.

Iron Cross of Orthodox tradition with blue enamel background is placed in the centre of the icon. This Cross is the icon itself. It is an icon in the shape of Cross. The lower part is constituted by a four-part iron portable altar – Skladen. The altar depicts 12 main feasts of Orthodox church and the events of salvation.

The upper part of the icon shows one Cherubim – on the left, and one Seraphim – on the right.  To the left from the Cross we see very detailed figures of Virgin Mary, Mary of Clopas and Mary Magdalene. Apostle John, soldier Longinus and Archangel Raphael are to the right. Aureole (nimbus) and the golden clothing of the figures indicates they all are glorified.

The buildings in the background are the depiction of the New Jerusalem. The colour of background – light blue – is the symbol of heavenly glory. The green colour of the base under the characters/postures symbolizes the worldly but it also means life, hope and expectation.

The upper part of the Icon of the iron Cross demonstrates Sabaoth – Lord of Hosts, sitting on the throne and blessing the scene of crucifixion. Underneath we find angels and the Holy Spirit as a dove. The body of the Crucified is stretched into the shape of letter S and does not wear signs of torture. This means that the body is already overwhelmed with glory. The table Jesus Christ the King (Tsar) of Jews is in the upper part of the icon. Under the arms of the Cross we can observe the writing: “Before Thy Cross we bow down in worship, O Master, and Thy Holy Resurrection we glorify.” In the slant arm of the Cross – indicating the pair of scales of the Last Judgement, Jerusalem is up and the hill Golgotha is down.

Next to the body of the Lord Jesus lies a cane with a sponge and spear, which Roman soldier used to pierce the side of Jesus Christ. Water and blood that gushed forth from the most holy wounds, washed the skull of Adam located in the deep cave (tomb) under the cross. The act of washing away the old wrongdoings symbolizes the holy renewal of the whole humanity. Underneath the skull of Adam, we see the tree of Paradise.

With his arms open Christ embraces all nations, as sung on Good Friday: "Salvation you have done in the middle of the Earth, on cross you have opened your most clean arms, embracing all nations ...". Saint Athanasius the Great claims that Christ crucified with arms opened died this way in order to bring closer to him the old Jewish and Gentile people and mutually unite them with himself – Jesus Christ. "And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself." (Jn 12,32).

Through the cross, Christ is risen, and the Cross is the believer means to achieve spiritual gifts and healing.