30. july 2021
Icon of St. John the Baptist - Ancestor
Origin: Greece, 18th century
Dimensions: 170.94 x 60.5
June 24 (July 7) - Birth of John the Baptist
August 29 (September 11) - beheading of John the Baptist
January 7 (January 20) - Cathedral of St. John the Baptist (linked to the Feast of Baptism)
February 24 (March 9) - Finding the head of John the Baptist
May 24 and 25 (June 7) - regaining the head of St. John the Baptist
October 12 (October 25) - transfer of the right hand of St. John the Baptist from Malta to Gatchina
St. John the Baptist is often referred to in the Orthodox Church as John the "Forerunner" because he was the last of the prophets to prepare the people of Israel for the coming of the Messiah. The Greek word ἄγγελόν "angelos" is a homonym - we can translate it in two ways: angel or messenger. The iconographers generally decided to opt for the first variant to highlight the figure of the herald sent by God himself.
We know very little about John's childhood. According to St. The scriptures went at a young age to the desert where he lived
until its public performance. In addition, the Bible mentions a dispute over his name: When a childless husband was born after a long year of supplication, a coveted child was born, and he was to be circumcised on the eighth day. Relatives wanted to name him after his father - Zechariah. However, to the surprise of all, the parents insisted on the name of John. Then Zechariah, who had not been able to speak from the moment of doubt, was untied by his mouth and tongue, and spoke again and glorified God. (Lk 1: 59-64).
The apostle Mark follows in his writings: The beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God, as it is written in Isaiah the prophet: “I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way”— “a voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.’ ” And so John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River. John wore clothing made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. And this was his message: “After me comes the one more powerful than I, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. (Mark 1:1-9 )
To this day, we cannot say with certainty exactly where this great ascetic worked. It is mentioned in the scripture that that he met Jesus “in Bethany, beyond the Jordan, resp. on its other bank ”(Jn 1:28), but we find no mention of this place in the early literature. We therefore consider that most likely John was somewhere in the area of Enon, near Salim (Jn 3:23). Today we can calculate that as the crow flies it is about 85 km from Jerusalem and 20 km from Nazareth.
In the icon, John is depicted according to the description of the gospel. In the wilderness, dressed in camel skin. The upper robe is green. In iconography, this color is ascribed to the Holy Spirit, indicating the growth and awakening of new life. The hills in the background are deliberately shaped to resemble stairs to heaven. Their task is not only to complete the impressiveness of the arid landscape, but above all to remind the viewer of the spiritual significance of the overall image. Therefore the saint is facing the Supreme. He blesses him from the descending clouds. He holds a scroll in his hand - the New Testament, which is soon to take its place on earth in the form of Christ's teaching. In the Bible, it is John who connects the old covenant with the new.
The scene is written on a gold background. The sheer dimensions of the image speak of the reverence of the Baptist.