PIE SLICES, CIRCLES, AND “CHURCH” ICONS

There is a group of variable icons with variable titles, all related, more or less, by subject matter or title.  The name varies depending on which elements are included or emphasized.

There are, for example, icons called (with some variation) Церковь Христова —Tserkov’ Khristova — “The Church of Christ,” but they may also be called Апостольская проповедь — Apostol’skaya Propoved’ — “The Apostolic Preaching.” (or “Preaching of the Apostles).  Here is an example:

It is easy to recognize Jesus in the center.  The segments of the “pie” surrounding Jesus show both scenes from the preaching of each apostle (in the outer portion) and the “suffering” or martyrdom or death of each apostle in the inner portion.  The scenes outside the “pie” circle vary from image to image.  In this example we see an elaborate Deisis centered on the New Testament Trinity at the top, with the Crucifixion of Jesus below it, and a gathering of clerics at the base of the icon.

One also finds icons that omit the scenes of the Apostles preaching, showing only their deaths.  The title for such icons is usually some variation on “Image of the Suffering (Страдание —Stradanie) of the Holy Apostles.”  Here is an example:

(Courtesy of Jacksonsauction.com)

(Courtesy of Jacksonsauction.com)

Here the central figure of the standing Christ in the “Apostolic Preaching” is replaced by the Crucifixion of Jesus (a secondary image in the first example), and the deaths of the Apostles are shown in circles around the periphery, instead of in the “pie” form one sometimes finds.

Now we have seen that the “Apostolic Preaching” type can shade off into a “Suffering of the Apostles” type simply by removing the “preaching” images, leaving only the “death” scenes.  But we have also seen that an alternate title for the “Apostolic Preaching” type is “The Church of Christ.”  That leads us to a quite different icon type that also represents the Church, and also involves persecution (whether real or imaginary).  Here is an example:

Tretyakov Gallery

Tretyakov Gallery

In Russia, such a type is generally loosely called Корабль Веры — Korabl’ Verui — “The Ship of Faith,” The example shown bears the title inscription  Образ Гонения на Церковь Божию — Obraz Goneniya na Tserkov’ Bozhiiu — “Image of the Persecution of the Church of God.”

Here is a later variation on the same type in print form, with an inscription in both in Greek and Slavic identifying it as the “Mystic Image of Our Holy Church,” and saying that though attacked by torturers and heretics, it is not overcome.

At the head of the ship is Jesus, and with him are Mary, the Apostles, and “Holy Fathers.”   The Holy Spirit as a dove is shown in a cloud above the mast. The ship bears the title “He Hagia Orthodoxos Ekklesia” in Greek, Svyataya Pravoslavnaya Tserkov’ in Slavic  — “The Holy Orthodox Church.”  The attackers on shore are such figures as the Antichrist, a dragon called the New Age, the Roman Emperor Julian “The Apostate,” the Protestant reformer Martin Luther, the Pope of Rome, etc.

None of these types are common, but nonetheless a student of icons should be able to recognize them.

 

 

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