ANOTHER LOOK AT THE SEVEN ARCHANGELS

Today we will look at an icon type that we have previously seen in a printed version ( https://russianicons.wordpress.com/2018/03/05/a-pillar-prints-and-a-prince/):

(Courtesy of Zoetmulder Ikonen: Russianicons.net)

Though there is a lot of writing on it, there is no real title inscription.  But we know from the printed example seen earlier that it is called

СОБОРЪ СВЯТЫХЪ СЕМИ АРХАНГЕЛОВЪ
SOBOR SVYATUIKH SEMI ARKHANGELOV
“[The] ASSEMBLY OF THE HOLY SEVEN ARCHANGELS.”

At the very top is a circular image of the “New Testament Trinity,” with Jesus at left, God the Father (Lord Sabaoth) at right, and the Holy Spirit as a dove above.

ivozshed

The inscription beside it  — taken from the “Symbol of Faith,” that is, the Nicene Creed — reads:

И возшедшаго на небеса, и седяща одесную Отца.
I vozshedshago na nebesa, i sedyashcha odesnuiu Otsa.
“And [he] ascended to Heaven, and sits on the right hand of the Father.”

Seeing the rest of the writing on the icon, we might think it is a prayer or liturgical text, but when we begin to read it, we find it is primarily a description of each archangel and what he is holding.  Let’s look at the inscription at upper left:

It begins:

СВЯТЫЙ ЕГУДИИЛЪ В ДЕСНИЦЕ И СВЧТЫЙ УРИИЛЪ В ДЕСНИЦЕ ДЕРЖАМУЩЕ ВЕНЕЦ ЗЛАТЫ ВЪ ШУЙЩЪ МЕЧЬ ОБНАЖЕН

From past reading here, you should easily be able to translate
СВЯТЫЙ ЕГУДИИЛЪ
and
СВЧТЫЙ УРИИЛЪ
as “Holy Yegudiel” and “Holy Uriel” — the names of the two archangels at upper left.  The text goes on to say that respectively, they are holding (ДЕРЖАМУЩЕ) in (В) the right hand (ДЕСНИЦЕ) a crown (ВЕНЕЦ) that is golden (ЗЛАТЫ), and in the left (ШУЙЩЪ/шуйце) a sword (МЕЧЬ) that is drawn/bare (ОБНАЖЕН).

And if we look at the image, we see that Yegudiel is in fact holding a golden crown, and Uriel next to him is holding a drawn sword:

The inscriptions are essentially descriptions of the archangels and their symbols much like those found in the Nastol’naya Kniga (настольная книга ) — the clerical handbook used by Russian Orthodox priests — though with a few additions.  Let’s look at that *simpler version, but in an order fitting the arrangement of archangels on this particular icon:

Egudiil/Yegudiel is holding a golden crown in his right hand, and in the left a scourge of three red or black cords.
Uriil/Uriel, in the raised right hand, a bare sword at chest level, in the lower left hand a flame of fire.


Selafiil/Selaphiel, in prayer, looks down, hands folded on his chest.
Barakhiil/Barakhiel has on his cloth a lot of pink flowers.


Gavriil/Gabriel with a “Paradise branch” brought to him by the Blessed Virgin, or with a luminous lantern in his right hand and a mirror of jasper in the left.


Mikhail/Michael tramples the Devil with his feet, in his left hand holds a green date branch, and in his right a spear with a white banner (sometimes a flaming sword) on which a scarlet cross is inscribed.

Rafail/Raphael holds a vessel with healing medicines in the left hand, and his right leads Tobias, who carries the fish.

Now we can see that this icon does not always or accurately include every symbol mentioned in that text, but such variations are common.

You have perhaps guessed that this “Assembly of the Holy Seven Archangels” image is an alternate icon type for the Church festival celebrated as the “Synaxis of the Archangel Michael and Other Bodiless Powers (for the other type see: https://russianicons.wordpress.com/2017/03/20/the-council-of-the-archangel-michael/).  And you will recall that both the Greek Synaxis (Σύναξις)and the Slavic Sobor (Собор) mean “Assembly,” “Gathering.”

 

*For those interested, here is the original text in the Nastol’naya Kniga:

На иконах Архангелы изображаются в соответствии с родом их служения:
Михаил — попирает ногами диавола, в левой руке держит зеленую финиковую ветвь, в правой — копье с белой хоругвью (иногда пламенный меч), на которой начертан червленый крест. Гавриил — с райской ветвью, принесенной им Пресвятой Деве, или со светящимся фонарем в правой руке и зеркалом из ясписа—-
в левой. Рафаил — держит сосуд с целительными снадобьями в левой
руке, а правой ведет Товию, несущего рыбу.
9-Й ДЕНЬ 257
Уриил — в поднятой правой руке — обнаженный меч на уров- не груди, в опущенной левой руке — «пламень огненный».
Селафиил — в молитвенном положении, смотрящий вниз, руки сложены на груди.
Иегудиил — в деснице держит золотой венец, в шуйце — бич из трех красных (или черных) вервий.
Варахиил — на его одежде множество розовых цветов. Иеремиил — держит в руке весы.

 

 

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