THE “BLEEDING SAVIOR” ICON TYPE

Icons called “wonderworking” are not limited to images of Mary.

Here, for example, is the Malo-Chernetchinskiy (Мало-Чернетчинский) icon of Jesus, also called the Спас Кро­воточивый / Spas Krovotochivuiy — literally the “Blood-flowing” Savior, but in more normal English, the “Bleeding Savior.” It takes its name from the village of Malaya Chernetchina (Малая Чернетчина), not far from the Russian border. Today it has been combined with the village of Tokari, and both now go under the Tokari name.

Examples are painted in a “Westernized” manner, generally in oil paints, and that is not surprising, given that icons of this type are mostly found in Ukraine. Late Ukrainian icons (except for those of the Old Believers) tend in general to be Westernized in appearance.

The icon depicts Jesus standing in a blood-filled basin, with the wounds of the Passion flowing both into cups held by the angels and into the basin. In some examples he wears the crown of thorns.

The origin story of the supposed “wonderworking” icon is another of those with what I call the “It came to me in a dream” motif. In other words, the tale says that the icon was discovered because of a dream. In this case, it was that of a peasant woman living in Mala Chernetchina named Anisya Panchenko. In the fall of the year 1887 she became very ill. Then she dreamed that an icon in the basement of the Church of All Saints, which formerly had been a part of the Dormition Monastery, would heal her. She heard Jesus speaking these words:

«Приходите сюда, молитесь и веруй­те, буду исцелять вас от всякой болез­ни».
“Come here, pray and believe, and you will be healed of all illnesses.”

The basement of the church was a messy place, filled with rubble and debris, snakes and bats, an unlikely place for an icon to be. Nonetheless, the icon was found there, and as these stories go, Anisya was healed.

Of course word of this soon got around, and people began visiting the image — so many that it was locked away for a time, until official Church approval was given for it to be available to the public. Then it became an even bigger draw for pilgrims.

Icons under this name are variable. Some include the angels, some omit them. Some have an inscription near the thorn-crowned head of Jesus:

Аз есмь хлеб животный, иже сшедый с небе­се: аще кто снесть от хлеба сего, жив бу­дет во веки ….

“”I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever ….” (John 6:51);

Аще не снесте плоти Сына Человеческаго, ни пиете кро­ве Его, живота не имате в себе»

“Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, you have no life in you.” (John 6:53).

And there are even examples that resemble the “Mystic Winepress” icons of Jesus (Iisus Hristos – Viţa de vie — “Jesus Christ the Grapevine,”) often found on Romanian glass icons. Images in this form are often called Христос в точиле / Khristos v Tochile — “Christ in the Winepress.”

In any case, as one might guess, the imagery of these icons can be traced back to the influence of Western European Roman Catholicism on the art of Ukrainian icons in the 17th century.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.