THE “WEEK” ICON

Icons of the Twelve Major Church Festivals — showing the chief festivals of the Russian Orthodox church year — are rather common. Less common are “Week” icons. These are often called by the Church Slavic word for “week,” Sedmitsa (Седмица), derived from sedm (седмь), meaning “seven,” referring to the seven days of the week.

In the “Week” icon, each day is represented by a different icon type. This is an example of such an icon:

Here are the types with the days they represent. Let’s begin at upper left:

1. SUNDAY: First comes the Sozhestvie vo Ad, the Descent into Hades/Hell, which is the old manner of depicting the Resurrection of Jesus in Russian Orthodoxy.
2. MONDAY: This day is represented by the Sobor or Assembly of the Archangels, with Christ Immanuel (the youthful Jesus) shown in a disk in the midst of them.
3. TUESDAY: The rather grim Beheading of John the Forerunner, the execution of John the Baptist, represents this day.
4. WEDNESDAY: The type for this day is the Blagovyeschenie, the Annunciation to Mary by the Archangel Gabriel of the coming birth of Jesus.
5. THURSDAY: The Footwashing, the type for this day, is taken from the account in John 13:1-12 of Jesus washing the feet of his disciples.
6. FRIDAY: This day is represented by the Raspyatie, the Crucifixion of Jesus.
7. SATURDAY: The type for this day is All Saints, represented by a gathering of saints of various categories.

At the center of “Week” icons we generally find another image, that of the New Testament Trinity, representing the three persons of the Trinity as the enthroned God the Father (Lord Sabaoth) depicted as an old, bearded man; the enthroned Jesus; and the Holy Spirit shown in the form of a dove, as he appeared at the Baptism of Jesus. When the altar table is also seen, it is an indication of the Hetimasia, the preparation of the throne (symbolized by the altar) as a sign of the coming Last Judgment.

As mentioned in the previous posting, types have their little variations from example to example. Here is a somewhat more elaborate old pattern for a “Week” icon:

Sedmitsa1_1

This pattern has the usual types representing days, as in the first example, but it adds to them, at top center, six images featuring God the Father shown in a circle with various scenes about him. These six images represent the Six Days of Creation, from the Genesis account in the Bible.

In the center of this pattern is a more elaborate example of the Trinity in Heaven “among the Powers,” that is, among the angels.

The large scene at the base of the icon is a great gathering of saints representing “All Saints,” the type for Saturday, but added to this is a scene of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, with the tempting serpent wrapped around the tree.

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