WHEN THE SAINTS COME MARCHING IN

At the request of a reader, here is a brief discussion of “All Saints” icons:

In the Greek Orthodox calendar, the first Sunday after Pentecost/Whitsunday is Ἡ Κυριακή των Ἁγίων Πάντων/He Kyriake ton Hagion Panton — “The Sunday of All Saints.”  In Russian Orthodoxy, it is Неделя всех святых/Nedelya vsekh svyatuikh, with the same meaning.

If you are a long-time reader here, you will perhaps recall that we have seen a generally simple form of the icon of All Saints as part of the “Week” icon (https://russianicons.wordpress.com/2015/09/26/what-day-is-it-icons-of-the-week/), in which it represents Saturday in the seven days of the week.

“All Saints” (Ὁι άγιοι Πάντες/Hoi Hagioi Pantes) icons do, however, exist on their own.

Greek iconography tends to prefer the “circle” form, which looks like this:

In the center we see Jesus enthroned.  He holds the opened Gospels.  If we look at an example of the same image in a more recent icon of the same type, we can see the text more easily:

It reads:

Δεῦτε, οἱ εὐλογημένοι τοῦ πατρός μου, κληρονομήσατε τὴν ἡτοιμα[σμένην ὑμῖν βασιλείαν ἀπὸ καταβολῆς κόσμου].

Come, you blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Matthew 25:34)

At upper left is the Prophet Daniel, and at upper right King Solomon.  Some examples have King David (called the Prophet David) at left instead of Daniel, in which case he holds a scroll with a text taken from Psalm 32 (33 in KJV numbering):

Αγαλλιάσθε δίκαιοι, εν Κυρίω· τοις ευθέσι πρέπει αίνεσις.

Rejoice in the Lord, you righteous; praise becomes the upright,
which is also a part of the liturgy for All Saints Sunday.

Solomon holds a scroll with a text from Wisdom of Solomon 5:15, one of the readings for the Sunday of All Saints:

Δίκαιοι δὲ εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα ζῶσι, καὶ ἐν Κυρίῳ ὁ μισθὸς αὐτῶν, καὶ ἡ φροντὶς αὐτῶν παρὰ ῾Υψίστῳ.

But the righteous live for evermore; their reward also is with the Lord, and the care of them is with the most High.

At the base of the icon, we see the Forefather Abraham seated in Paradise at left, holding a soul in his bosom.  Some examples include a similar image of the Forefather Jacob at right, also holding souls, as in this icon:

You will recall these fellows from the previous posting on the icon of the Forefathers in Paradise ( https://russianicons.wordpress.com/2015/04/04/three-old-men-on-a-park-bench-the-patriarchs-in-paradise/).  To the right of Abraham is the image of the “Repentant Thief,” holding his cross.

In the circle around Jesus are the various ranks of saints.  At his feet is the altar table we find in icons of the Hetoimasia — the “Preparation of the Throne,” the throne being represented as an altar.  To its left stands Adam, and at right Eve.

At the top of the circle we see angels with the cross and symbols of the Passion, and above them two more angels holding open the doors of Heaven.

Russian icons of “All Saints” are commonly in the “square” form rather than the Greek “circle,” as we see in this example from 1616:

At top is Jesus in the “Deisis” form, with Mary at left and John the Forerunner (Baptist) at right, and many angels on both sides  Below him and between two angels is the “Hetoimasia” — the altar table “throne” prepared for judgment.  The rest of the icon consists of the saints, separated into their ranks or choirs (Slavic лики/liki), just as we saw in the posting on “Week” icons mentioned above.

“All Saints” icons commemorate all saints from the beginning of time to Judgment Day, and the image of the Patriarchs in Paradise is included as representation of the rewards of sainthood.

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