THE “FRUITS OF THE PASSION OF CHRIST” IMAGE

Today we will look at an icon of the type generally known as the “Fruits of the Passion of Christ.”  Such icons are not common, and are generally  found as Russian examples from the latter part of the 1600s to the first third of the 1800s.  Here, however, is an icon from the Greek-speaking region that appears to be dated 1827:

(Photo courtesy of Benoit Harang)

The “Fruits of the Passion” type is the central image in this triptych, with the left and right wings depicting the different icon type known as the “Communion of the Apostles.”

The “Fruits of the Passion type” represents the benefits believed to have resulted from the crucifixon of Jesus.

(Courtesy of Benoit Harang)

The cross is shown as a blossoming “tree of life.”  Angels in the blossoms just above the crossbar hold symbols relating to the Passion, such as the crown of thorns, the pillar and scourge, and so on.  Among them is a “Not Made by Hands” depiction of Jesus on a cloth, which is actually out of place given its role in Eastern Orthodox Tradition, where it is not passion-related; but it reveals the Western influences that led to this type, because the depiction of Jesus on a cloth as the “Veil of Veronica” does relate to the Passion narrative in Roman Catholic tradition.

At left is a pillared church — representing the founding of the Christian Church.  In it stand the Evangelists Luke, Mark, Matthew and John.  A hand reaches down from a flower blossoming on the left end of the cross, and bestows a crown upon the “Church.”

Another hand reaches down from a blossom on the right side of the cross, and with a sword strikes down Death, who appears in the form of a skeleton.

At the top of the image is the Heavenly Jerusalem.  A hand reaches up from a blossom at the top of the cross to open the door to the Heavenly Jerusalem.  The hand commonly holds a key.

At lower left the dead are seen rising from their graves in the Resurrection at the Second Coming of Jesus, and at lower right another hand reaches out of a blossom and strikes with a hammer at the image of Satan, shown in the form of a monster chained to the foot of the cross, and holding Judas in his grasp.  They, in turn, lie within the even larger mouth of Hades, depicted as a huge devouring monster.

The sun and moon are shown at upper left and right, as is common in “Crucifixion” icons.

Inscriptions on icons of this type vary.  This example has four scrolls near the hands of Jesus, but only those on the right are easily legible:

karptoudet1

There we find these words:
 …Καί λογισθείς ἐν τοῖς νεκροῖς τόν ἐκεῖσε τύραννον ἔδησας..
“And you were numbered with the dead and there bound the tyrant…”
That is a line from the Greek Orthodox Matins for Great Friday.  So it is possible that the damaged inscription on the left side is what comes just before that line:
Τό χειρόγραφον ἡμῶν ἐν τῷ σταυρῷ διέῤῥηξας, Κύριε…
“You tore up their manuscript [that is, a legal document with charges] on the cross, Lord…”
If that assumption is correct the scrolls all together would read:
Τό χειρόγραφον ἡμῶν ἐν τῷ σταυρῷ διέῤῥηξας, Κύριε. Καί λογισθείς ἐν τοῖς νεκροῖς τόν ἐκεῖσε τύραννον ἔδησας…
In the modern Orthodox liturgy in English, that is rendered more loosely as:
“On the cross you destroyed the legal bond against us, O Lord.  You were reckoned with the dead and there did bind the tyrant…”
Icons of this “Fruits of the Passion of Christ” type (in Slavic Плоды Страданий Христовых — Plodui Stradaniy Khristovuikh) appear to have their origin in a Western-influenced engraving by Vasiliy Andreev that appeared in Moscow about 1682:

 As an engraving, it is given the title Распятие с чудесамиRaspyatie s Chudesami — “Crucifixion with Miracles.”  We can see that aside from the more numerous inscriptions, the engraving and the Greek icon shown above are very much the same.  On the Russian version, the text just below the crossbeam reads:

НЕ СУДИХЪ БО ВЕДЕТИ ЧТО ВЪ ВАСЪ ТОЧИЮ ИИСУСА ХРИСТА И СЕГО РАСПЯТА
NE SUDIKH BO VYEDYETI CHTO V VAS TOCHIIU IISUSA KHRISTA I SEGO RASPYATA
For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.”  It is from 1 Corinthians 2:2.
A detail shows us an angel at left catching the blood of Christ in a chalice, with the instruments of the Crucifixion shown in a round medallion.  The angel at right has a medallion with the ladders of the crucifixion.
 At the top we see “Lord Sabaoth” — God the Father — and the Holy Spirit as dove below him.  They are over the Heavenly Jerusalem, whose gates are being opened by the hand that reaches up from the cross, and holds a key:

At left is the new-founded Church with the Four Evangelists, with the hand reaching down from the cross with a crown:

Here Death, riding a white horse, is struck by a hand reaching down from the cross, wielding a sword:

You will recall that Death represented as a skeleton or corpse on a white horse is also found in the “Only-begotten Son” icon type.

Here is Satan holding Judas in the maw of Hades:

Finally, here are the two wings of the triptych shown at the top of the page.  As mentioned previously, together they form the “Communion of the Apostles” icon type:

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