MIXED ASSEMBLY

I have previously discussed the “All Saints” icon type — commemorating the celebration of all saints on the Sunday after Pentecost.

Here is an interesting Russian example. Its title inscription reads Sobor Vsyekh” Svyatuikh” — “Assembly of All Saints”:

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There is considerable variation in “All Saints” icons. Ordinarily they show the various saints assembled together, often placed into ranks depending on the category of saint — such as apostles, monks, church fathers, etc. — as in this example:

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The title inscription at the base reads Obraz Vsyekh” Svyatuikh” — “Image of All Saints”

There is, however, another and related type of icon commemorating the saints or “wonderworkers” of a particularly famous monastery or region. The most common of these are the icons depicting the saints associated with the Pecherskaya Lavra in Kyiv/Kiev:

Now as you can see, the great majority of saints depicted here are monastics. The title inscription says, “Assembly of All Kievo-Pecherskaya Wonderworkers.” There are rows of bishops and monastics, and above them even the skulls of former monks of the monastery.

In the center is a stylized image of the Dormition Cathedral at the Pecherskaya Lavra, and above it an icon of the Dormition of Mary.

Now the interesting thing about the first icon we looked at on this page is that it seems an attempt to combine the two types of image. Let’s look at it again:

(Belgian Private Collection)

We see in it many types of saint, monks among them — but they are not predominantly monks as in the “Kievo-Pecherskaya Wonderworkers” type. Nonetheless, in the center is what appears to be another stylized image of the Pecherskaya Lavra, and at the left and right of it, we find two significant monastic saints:

At left is Antoniy Pecherskiy:

And at right is Feodosiy Pecherskiy:

Now you may remember Antoniy and Feodosiy from Marian icons of the “Pecherskaya” type, in which they are either standing beside Mary or kneeling before her, depending on the variant. They are famous saints in Russian Orthodoxy, because they are considered the founding saints of monasticism, not only in Ukraine but for Russia as well.

What all this means is that in today’s icon, the painter apparently attempted a blending of two images: the standard “Assembly of All Saints” type and the Kievo-Pecherskaya type — putting it all under the title “Assembly of All Saints.” Remember that in Church Slavic, “Assembly” is Sobor, and in Greek it is Synaxis.

At the top of the icon, he has placed individual images of Mary as Hodigitria, of the Archangel Michael, of the Crucifixion, of the Archangel Gabriel, and of St. Nicholas. Below them is a simplified Deisis, with Jesus in the center flanked by Mary at left and John the Forerunner at right. In the center at the base is the image of the Guardian Angel.

Thanks to the owner of the icon, who kindly shared the image with the readers here.