NICHOLAS AND THE SOGGY CHILD

If you are a long-time reader here, you will recognize this 19th century icon even before you read the rather faded title inscription at the top:

(Courtesy of Jacksonsauction.com)

For those who may be newer readers however, let’s look at that inscription.  Here are the first two words:

ОБРАЗЪ С[ВЯ]ТАГО/OBRAZ SVYATAGO/”IMAGE OF HOLY …”

And the last two:

НИКОЛЫ ЧЮДОТВОРЦА/NIKOLUI CHUDOTVORTSA/…”NICHOLAS THE WONDERWORKER”

All together, it reads:

ОБРАЗЪ СВЯТАГО НИКОЛЫ ЧЮД[ОТВОРЦА]
OBRAZ SVYATAGO NIKOLUI CHUDOTVORTSA
“IMAGE OF HOLY NICHOLAS THE WONDERWORKER”

So yes, this is an image of Nikolai Chudotvorets — Nicholas the Wonderworker, also known as Nicholas of Myra.  He was an extremely popular saint in old Russian Orthodoxy, and very high in the “pantheon” of religious figures.  Perhaps you recall that the usual name for the type of Nicholas as depicted in the central image here — Nicholas holding a sword in one hand and a church in the other — is “Nicholas of Mozhaisk.”

To that image, the painter of this icon has added a couple of scenes from one of the traditional legends of Nicholas — his saving of the child in the Dniepr/Dnieper River.  Supposedly, the child was out in a boat with his parents on the Dniepr, not far from Kyiv (Kiev).  The mother fell asleep as she held the child, and when she did so, the child fell overboard and disappeared beneath the water.  The waking mother was beside herself with anguish, and the distraught father prayed to St. Nicholas.  The next morning the sacristan at the Church of Holy Wisdom in Kyiv heard a child crying in the choir loft, and on searching, the child that had been lost and drowned in the Dnieper was found lying soaked with river water and crying beneath an icon of St. Nicholas.

At left in this icon, we see the parents in the boat on the Dniepr, the child fallen in the water, and Nicholas coming to the rescue:

At right we see the child lying in the church beneath the icon, and the happy parents as they find him there.

At the upper left of the icon, we see the usual images of Jesus giving Nicholas the book of the Gospels …

and Mary at upper right, presenting Nicholas with his bishop’s stole (omofor/omophorion):

For those who want more information on icon types of Nicholas, just do a search on the site archives here for previous postings.

 

 

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