In the latter part of the 19th century, lithographed icons on tin or on paper — such as this  example — contributed to the decline of icon painting in Russia.  The reason was obvious; printed icons were much cheaper than painted icons, and they did the job just as well, from a strictly utilitarian point of view.

The saint depicted here is Tikhon Kaluzhskiy — Tikhon of Kaluga:

(Courtesy of Jacksonsauction.com)

His title in full is Преподобный Тихон Медынский Калужский чудотворец — “Venerable Tikhon of Meduin and Kaluga, Wonderworker.”   Little information has come down about him.  What there is says that he was a Russian saint of the 15th century. Said to have been born in Kiev, he went while still young to Moscow, where he became a monk.  Later he went to live an ascetic life between the towns of Meduin and Kaluga, on the banks of the river Vepreika.  There he took up residence in a hollow oak tree on land claimed by Prince Yaroslav Vladimirovich.  One day the prince was out hunting, and happened to discover Tikhon living on his land.  The Prince flew into a fury and tried to whip Tikhon, but was shocked to find the arm holding the whip had gone numb.  He saw this as a divine sign, and after asking forgiveness, offered to donate money for the building of a monastery.

Just as Simeon Verkhoturskiy is recognized by his fishing pole and bucket, Tikhon of Kaluga is recognized by the hollow oak tree in which he lived.  In the background one can see the Monastery he founded, the Dormition Monastery.

Tikhon is not the only saint who is said to have lived in a hollow tree (for example, the Bulgarian popular saint Ioann (John) of Rila is said to have done so), but when you see a Russian icon depicting a monk standing in a big hollow tree, it is very likely to be Tikhon.


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