AN OLD BELIEVER “JOY TO ALL WHO SUFFER”

Today we will take a thorough (so get your tea and biscuits/cookies) look at an icon type discussed in a previous posting:

https://russianicons.wordpress.com/2015/11/11/a-very-popular-marian-image-the-joy-of-all-who-suffer/

Today’s example is very useful in learning to read inscriptions, so I will dwell on those in some detail, in order to help those of you who are just beginning to learn to translate Church Slavic inscriptions.

First we should look at the title inscription at the top:  It begins at left, and continues at right:


ѠБРАЗ ВСЕМ СКОРБЯЩИМЪ
OBRAZ VSEM SKORBYASHCHIM”
IMAGE [of] TO-ALL SUFFERING

РАДОСТЬ ПРЕСВЯТЫЯ БОГОРОДИЦЫ
RADOST’ PRESVYATUIYA BOGORODITSUI
JOY           MOST-HOLY       GOD-BIRTHGIVER

If we put it all together we get:

ѠБРАЗ ВСЕМ СКОРБЯЩИМЪ РАДОСТЬ ПРЕСВЯТЫЯ БОГОРОДИЦЫ
OBRAZ VSEM SKORBYASHCHIM” RADOST’ PRESVYATUIYA BOGORODITSUI
“IMAGE OF THE JOY TO ALL WHO SUFFER MOST HOLY MOTHER OF GOD”

Now as you can see, the final translation has been put into normal English.  This type is also often called in English the “Joy of All Who Suffer” Mother of God.

Here is the icon:

(Courtesy of the Maryhill Museum of Art)

At top center we see ГОСПОДЬ САВАѠФЪ/GOSPOD’ SAVAOF” — “LORD SABAOTH” — God the Father.  He blesses with his right hand and holds a cross-topped orb — the symbol of universal rule and authority — in has left:

Now the position of the fingers in his blessing hand tells us that this is an Old Believer icon, which is not surprising, given its stylized form.

Below and to the left of Lord Sabaoth, we see this:

It is of course the sun, and we see the Church Slavic word СОЛНЦЕ/SOLNTSE — “SUN” just above it.

On the right of the icon is the moon — ЛУНА/LUNA — among the stars.

It is common in Russian iconography for the sun and moon to be given faces — anthropomorphized.  You may recall that the other icon type in which the sun and moon are commonly found is the Crucifixion, but in that type the sun is darkened and the moon is blood red, in contrast to this type, in which the sun and moon are represented normally.

If you are a long-time reader here, you will recognize the central image of Mary and the child Jesus as a version of what is called in German the Strahlende Madonna — the “Radiant Madonna.”  And you may recall that in some versions of this icon type, Mary is shown without the child Jesus on her arm:  Here both are crowned, and Mary has a string of painted jewels in her halo:

The abbreviation above her is the standard Greek ΜΡ ΘΥ, identifying her as Μήτηρ Θεού / Meter Theou — “Mother of God.”  While all other inscriptions on Russian icons are generally in Church Slavic,  Russian iconography nonetheless kept this abbreviation as the identifying mark of Mary.  And as you can see, it also kept the standard Greek abbreviation used to identify Jesus in Russian icons:  IC  XC for Ιησούς Χριστός / Iesous Khristos — “Jesus Christ.”  Each abbreviation has the curved horizontal line indicating abbreviation above it.

If we look at Jesus in the arms of Mary, we can see that his halo contains the usual inscription used for him in the cross outline visible behind his head.

The Greek form of the halo inscription is Ὁ ѠN — HO ON — meaning “The One Who Is” — a title of God found in Exodus 3:14.  The letters are read top-left-right, as they usually also are in Bulgarian icons.  In Russian icons, however, the left letter is commonly changed from Ѡ to Slavic  Ѿ  — pronounced “ot” — which enables them to read the inscription left-top-right while giving it various fanciful interpretations.  That is what we see here.  Some like the letters to represent the members of the Trinity, interpreting them as abbreviations for the Three-Hypostatic Godhood, represented in the letters as  Ѿ (ot) for Ѿтеческий/Otecheskiy — “Of the Father’s”; О for Оум/Oum — “Mind”; and  Н for Непостижимъ Сыин/Nepostizhim Suin — “Unfathomable Son.”

Still others read it as abbreviating
От небес приидох — Они же Мя не познаша — На кресте распяша
Ot nebes priidokh — Oni zhe mya ne poznasha — Na kreste raspyasha
“From heaven I came — They knew me not — On the cross I was crucified.”

Now for some practice in reading saints’ names.  Let’s begin with those just to left of Mary, beginning at the top:

At the very top, we see this saint wearing a monk’s garments:

ПРД ЗОСИМЪ СОЛ
PRD ZOZIM” SOL
The first and last words are abbreviated.  In full the title is:

ПРЕПОДОБНЫЙ ЗОСИМЪ СОЛОВЕТСКИЙ
PREPODOBNUIY ZOSIM” SOLOVETSKIY
“VENERABLE ZOSIM/ZOSIMA OF SOLOVETSK”

You may recall that he is one of a pair of saints often found in icons:  Zosim and Savvatiy Solovetskiy — the founding fathers of the Solovetskiy/Solovkiy Monastery and the patron saints of beekeeping. Remember that Prepodobnuiy (literally “most-like” — meaning most like Christ, or most like Adam before the Fall) is commonly translated into English as Venerable — and that this is the masculine form, the common title for a monk.

Below him we see at left:

ПРД ФЕОДОСИЯ
ПРЕПОДОБНАЯ ФЕОДОСИЯ
PREPODOBNAYA FEODOSIYA
“VENERABLE FEODOSIYA/THEODOSIA”

Now as you can see, the PRD here abbreviates PREPODOBNAYA — the female form of Prepodobnuiy, and it is the common title for a nun.  And as we see, Feodosiya is wearing a nun’s garments.  Presumably she is Theodosia of Constantinople.

Now oddly enough, the writer has given the saint at right the PRD abbreviation too — which he usually does not have, because he was not a monk.  So we will omit it here.  He is:

ВАСИЛИЙ БЛАЖЕННЫЙ
VASILIY BLAZHENNUIY
“VASILIY THE BLESSED.”

BLAZHENNUIY is a title commonly used for “Holy Fools,” those called “Fools for Christ’s Sake.”  And this Vasiliy/Basil is the same fellow for whom the St. Vasiliy/Basil Cathedral in Red Square in Moscow is named. Vasiliy was prayed to for safety from fire, for the cure of eye problems, and for help when beginning a new task in a workshop.

Next come two very familiar saints:

At left is:
СВЯТЫЙ ПАВЕЛЪ АПОСТОЛ
SVYATUIY PAVEL” APOSTOL
“HOLY PAVEL/PAUL APOSTLE”

So he is the Apostle Paul, from the New Testament.  He is often prayed to for protection of children from death.  And beside him is

СВЯТЫЙ ПЕТРЪ АПОСТОЛ
SVYATUIY PETR” APOSTOL
“HOLY PETR/PETER APOSTLE”

And that is St. Peter from the New Testament.  Notice that he holds the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven in one hand, and also a scroll reading:

ТЫ ЕСИ ПЕТР НА СЕМ КАМЕНИ
TUI ESI PETR NA SEM KAMENI
“YOU ARE PETER: ON THIS ROCK”

The words are taken from Matthew 16:18:
ты еси Петр, и на сем камени созижду Церковь Мою, и врата адова не одолеют ей:
Tui esi Petr, i na sem kameni sozizhdu tserkov’ moiu, i vrata adova ne odoleleiut ey
“You are Peter; on this rock I shall build my church, and the gates of Hades shall not Prevail against it.”

Peter was prayed to for relief from fevers, and Paul — like the Holy Fool Vasiliy — for help when beginning a new work in a workshop.

Then we have two saints robed as bishops, with the bishop’s stole (Slavic omofor/Greek omophorion around their necks and the Gospel book in their hands:

At left is:

СВЯТЫЙ  ХАРЛАМПИЙ СВЯЩЕННОМУЧЕНИК
SVYATUIY KHARLAMPIY SVYASHCHENOMUCHENIK
“HOLY KHARLAMPIY/KHARALAMPOS PRIEST-MARTYR”

Kharlampiy was prayed to for protection from plagues and sudden death

СВЯТЫЙ АНТИПИЙ
SVUYATUIY ANTIPIY
HOLY ANTIPIY/ANTIPAS

Antipiy was prayed for in case of toothache.

On the right side of the icon, we find these saints:

At top, dressed in the garments of a monk, is

ПРЕПОДОБНЫЙ НИКИТО
PREPODOBNUIIY NIKITO
“VENERABLE NIKITO/NIKITA”

“Nikita” is the more common spelling, but in icons it is not unusual to find spelling variations — usually phonetic. We find here the relatively common substitution of “o” for “a.”  It is a spelling change frequent in Russian icons because the unstressed “o” in Russian sounds rather like “a.”

At left below him, dressed in warrior’s garments and holding the cross of martyrdom, is:

СВЯТЫЙ ГЕОРГИЙ ВЕЛИКОМУЧЕНИК
SVYATUIY GEORGIY VELIKOMUCHENIK
“HOLY GEORGE GREAT-MARTYR

He is the famous saint of “St. George and the Dragon” icons.  He was often prayed to for the protection of flocks.

To the right of George is:

СВЯТАЯ АННА ПРАВЕДНАЯ
SVYATAYA ANNA PRAVEDNAYA
“HOLY ANNA RIGHTEOUS”

This is the Anna who in apocryphal sources such as the Protoevangelion of James was the mother of Mary, mother of Jesus.  Her title Pravednaya/Righteous (male form Pravednuiy) is often used for saints considered to be in some way “Old Testament”  — and Anna and her husband Joachim were predecessors of the Gospel.  Notice that Svyataya is the female form of  male Svyatuiy (“Holy”).  Anna was often prayed to for conceiving children.

Next comes a pair of brothers often found together in icons:

At left is:

СВЯТЫЙ КОЗМА БЕЗСРЕБРЕНИК
SVYATUIY KOZMA BEZSREBRENIK
“HOLY  KOSMA/COSMAS UNMERCENARY”

СВЯТЫЙ ДOМЕАНЪ БЕЗСРЕБРЕНИК
SVYATUIY DOMEAN” BEZSREBRENIK 
“HOLY UNMERCENARY DOMEAN/DAMIAN”

The title Bezsrebrenik means literally “without (bez-) silver (-srebre/серебро) guy (-nik).  It is generally used for physicans who treated patients without asking payment.  Note that as we saw in the name “Nikito,” in Russian icons the letters o and a are often interchanged in the spelling of Domean/Damian.  The two were prayed to for educational matters and of course for healing.

The last two saints on the main part of the icon are both dressed as bishops, with omophorion and Gospel book:

At left is one of the most frequently found saints in Russian iconography, after Mary and Jesus.  he is:

СВЯТТВЙ НИКОЛАЕ ЧУДОТВОРЕЦ
SVYATUIY NIКOLAE CHUDOTVORETS
“HOLY NIKOLAE/NICHOLAS WONDERWORKER”

Nicholas the Wonderworker is Nicholas of Myra, who later morphed into the American Santa Claus.  His name is generally found as Nikola or Nikolai — and in regions such as Belarus as Mikola.  He was often prayed to for safety on the water and protection from drowning.

Last, to his right, is:

СВЯТЫЙ ИОАННЪ ЗЛАТОУСТ
SVYATUIY IOANN” ZLATOUST
“HOLY JOHN CHRYSOSTOM”

His name in Slavic means literally “Golden (zlat-) Mouth (-oust).”  He is one of the “Three Hierarchs” often found together in Russian icons.  He was an archbishop of Constantinople and a noted orator, but also, unfortunately, a virulent anti-Semite.  It was thought helpful to pray to John Zlatoust/Chrysostom when in despair.

You perhaps noticed that the titles on this icon are arranged in the halos like this:

SVYATAYA ANNA PRAVEDNAYA
“HOLY ANNA RIGHTEOUS”

Ordinarily, however, they are like this:

SVYATAYA PRAVEDNAYA ANNA
“HOLY RIGHTEOUS ANNA”

Of course the outcome is the same, but the second form is that generally found in icons.

Though we will not look at them individually, in the outer left and right borders of the icon — commonly the location of saints for whom the members of the family were named, we find these:

Left, from top:

Holy Vasiliy/Basil
Venerable Makariy/Makarios
Holy Great Martyr Dimitriy/Demetrios
Venerable Feodor/Theodore

At right, from top:

Holy Great Martyr Artemiy/Artemios
Holy Martyr Anastasia
Venerable Vasiliy/Basil
Venerable Maria/Mary of Egypt

Now the inscription in the rectangle at the base:

On Marian icons, we often find an inscription with lines from a Marian hymn or a prayer to Mary.  In this case it is the former.

At the beginning, we see these words in red:

ТРОПАРЬ ГЛАСЪ Д
TROPAR’ GLAS”   D
TROPARION VOICE 4

Note that the letter Д (D) here is used as a number.

A troparion is a brief hymn found in liturgical texts.  By “voice” is meant “tone” — and by that is meant a musical mode.  There are traditionally eight modes  — categories of melodies — in Eastern Orthodox hymns.

So we know this text is a hymn, and by its context, most likely a Marian hymn.  But which one is it?

Well, here is the text in a modern Russian font (note that the letter ъ is often omitted at the end of some words in modern form):

Тропарь, глас 4.

К Богородице прилежно ныне притецем грешнии, со смирением припадающе и покаянием, вопиюще из глубины душевныя, Владычице помози милосердовавши на ны, и потщися яко изгибаем от множества грехов. Не отврати раб Своих тощ, Тебе бо Едину Помощницу имамы.

“To the Mother of God let us sinners now earnestly run, with humility falling down in repentance, crying from the depths of the soul:  O Lady, mercifully help us, and make haste, for we perish from the multitude of sins. Turn not your servant away empty, for you are our only hope.”

It is from the “Canon to the Most Holy Mother of God.”

Do not expect to always find the same text on icons of the “Joy to All Who Suffer.”  The text used varies from example to example.  And keep in mind that the wording on Old Believer icons often differs somewhat from that used in the “revised” State Orthodox Church liturgical books.

Perhaps you might like to hear a “State Church” setting by A. Arkhangelskiy of this Troparion:

Well, that’s it for today.  Now go for a walk to work off all those cookies you have eaten while reading this.

ANOTHER “LORD ALMIGHTY” TEXT VARIANT

Today we will look at a 13th century fresco from the cupola of the Boyana Church just outside of Sophia, in Bulgaria.

Of course we are already quite familiar with these “Lord Almighty” (Greek: Pantokrator) images, which are extremely common.  This one, however, has a rather different Slavic inscription on the book.

Ordinarily, the book held by Jesus is the Gospels, and usually one of the standard Gospel texts is written on it.  That is not what we find here.

Let’s look more closely:

When we put spaces between the words, we find it reads:

Видите, видите, яко азъ есмь Богъ и нѣсть иного развѣ мене
Vidite, vidite, yako az esm’ Bog i nest’ inogo razvye mene
“See, See, that I am God, and there is no other besides me.”

It is a variation on the words found in Deuteronomy 32:39 in the Old Testament:

Видите, видите, яко Аз есмь, и несть Бог разве Мене: Аз убию и жити сотворю.
Vidite, vidite, yako Az esm’, i nest’ Bog razve mene: Az ubiiu i zhiti sotvoriu.
“See, see, that I am, and there is no God besides me: I kill and create life.”

Similarly, in Isaiah 45:21 we read:

Аз Бог, и несть иного разве Мене
Az Bog, i nest’ inogo razve Mene
“I am God, and there is no other besides me.”

 

 

 

 

 

TWO TRINITY INSCRIPTIONS

Today we will look at a couple of Russian icons of a type you already should recognize– the “New Testament Trinity,” so called to distinguish it from the Old Testament Trinity icon in the form of the three angels that appeared to the patriarch Abraham at the Oak of Mamre.

The reason for revisiting this type is to add a couple of Church Slavic inscriptions sometimes found on New Testament Trinity icons to your repertoire.  Here is the first icon:

As you know (I hope!), it depicts the Trinity as Jesus sitting on the throne with God the Father, with the Holy Spirit hovering above in the form of a dove.  At left is Mary, at right John the Forerunner (the Baptist).  The throne is supported by Seraphim, and surrounded by a ring of cherubim, a single one of which is in the middle between the Father and Son.  Symbols of the Four Evangelists extend from the blue ring of cherubim.  The Archangel Michael is visible at upper left, and the Archangel Gabriel at upper right.

Now on to the main topic of discussion — the inscription above Jesus and God the Father.  We will enlarge it, and view it in two parts.  Here is the left side:

We are concerned with the inscription that is above the Gospod’ Vsederzhitel’ (Lord Almighty) title above the halo of Jesus.  It reads:

БЛ[А]ГОСЛОВЕННО Ц[А]Р[С]ТВО
Blagoslovenno Tsarstvo…
“Blessed-is [the] Kingdom…

And here it continues on the right side, above the Gospod’ Savaof’ (“Lord Sabaoth”) title of God the Father:

It reads ..ОЦА И С[Ы]НА И С[ВЯ]ТАГО Д[У]ХА
…Otsa i Suina i Svyatago Dukha
“…[of the] Father and [of the] Son and [of the] Holy Spirit.”

So all together, the inscription is this:

БЛ[А]ГОСЛОВЕННО Ц[А]Р[С]ТВО ОЦА И С[Ы]НА И С[ВЯ]ТАГО Д[У]ХА
BLAGOSLOVENNO TSARSTVO OTSA I SUINA I SVYATAGO DUKHA
“BLESSED IS THE KINGDOM OF THE FATHER AND OF THE SON AND OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.”

Now we will look at an inscription on another icon, heavily ornamented with baroque designs in the border:

We need to look more closely to see the inscription.  It is in the inner ring of cherubim:

It is a bit damaged, and tends to fade out in the bottom half of the circle.  But if we look at the more distinct part in the upper half, we can determine what it says.

Here is the left side of it:

And here is the right side:

Because half of the inscription is so worn as to be illegible, we must work with what is there.  Remember that in the case of unfamiliar inscriptions, the procedure is to look for words you recognize.  Because this is a circular inscription, we have to find the beginning.  If we look on the right side, we see these words:

The first word is a bit faint, but after it we can clearly see:

ГОСПОД ГОСПОДЕВИ/GOSPOD’ GOSPODEVI

And if we are clever, we might decide that the next word is МОЕМУ/MOEMOU

So it would read

ГОСПОД ГОСПОДЕВИ МОЕМУ
…[the] Lord [to] Lord My…
“..The Lord to my Lord…”

Where have we heard that before?  Well, if you are at all familiar with the Psalms and the Gospel “of Matthew,” you will recognize it as the beginning of this phrase:

The Lord said to my Lord, sit at my right hand until I make your enemies your footstool.

Now if we look at that quote in the Church Slavic Bible, we find it is right at the beginning of Psalm 109 (110 KJV):


Reche Gospod’ Gospodevi moemu: syedi odesnuiu mene, dondezhe polozhu vragi tvoya podnozhie nog” tvoikh”.
Zhezl” silui poslet” ti Gospod’ ot Siona, i gospodstvuy posredye vragov” tvoikh”.
S” toboiu nachalo v” den’ silui tvoeya, vo svyetlostekh” svyatuikh” tvoikh”: iz chreva prezhde dennitsui rodikh” tya.

The Lord said to my Lord, sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.
The Lord shall send the rod of your strength out of Zion: and rule in the midst of your enemies.
With you is dominion in the day of your power, in the splendors of your saints: I have begotten you from the womb before the morning.”

We can see on the left side of the icon the words “ot Siona” — “out of Zion,” so that just confirms that we have found the right inscription, though in the icon it ends about there and does not include the last line of verse 3, which we have seen before:

iz chreva prezhde dennitsui rodikh” tya.
“I have begotten you from the womb before the morning.”

If you do not remember where we saw that line in a previous icon inscription, you will find it in the discussion of the last icon pictured in this posting:

https://russianicons.wordpress.com/2012/07/18/the-blessed-silence-icon-and-lots-of-noisy-talk-about-it/

It is not unusual to find this “The Lord said to my Lord” inscription on icons of the New Testament Trinity, so now you will recognize it when you see it.

 

WATER AND HONEY

Here is today’s icon type:


To find out what it is, we need only read the title inscription on the banner that is at the top:

As you can see, it is rather long — so we shall take it part by part:


The first word is ОБРАЗ, with the final З written lying just above the A.  If you have been reading this site for some time (or you can go to the archives for older postings), you will recognize ОБРАЗ/Obraz as the word for “image.”  The saints below are Vasiliy Velikiy (Basil the Great) and the Meter Theou (Mother of God);

The following words are: ПРОИСХОЖДЕНIЕ (ПРОИСХОЖДЕНИЕ) — PROISKHOZDENIE;
ЧЕСТНАГО — CHESTNAGO (remember that the -ago suffix indicates an “of” form);

И ЖИВОТВОРЯЩАГО КРЕСТА –– I ZHIVOTVORYASHCHAGO KRESTA, with the IC XC abbreviation for Jesus just below);

ГОСПОДЬНЯ НА ИСТОЧНIКЬ (ИСТОЧНИКЬ ) — GOSPOD’NYA NA ISTOCHNIK’, with John the Forerunner and Grigoriy Bogoslov (Gregory the Theologian) just below;

Now if we put the whole inscription together, we get:

ОБРАЗ ПРОИСХОЖДЕНИЕ ЧЕСТНАГО И ЖИВОТВОРЯЩАГО КРЕСТА ГОСПОДЬНЯ НА ИСТОЧНИКЬ

OBRAZ PROISKHOZHDENIE CHESTNAGO I ZHIVOTVORYASHCHAGO KRESTA GOSPOD’NYA NA ISTOCHNIK’

“[THE] IMAGE [of the] PROCESSION OF THE HONORABLE AND LIFE-CREATING CROSS [of the] Lord to the WELLSPRING.”

So this icon type is the “Image of the Procession of the Honorable and Life-creating (we can say “life-giving” in English) Cross of the Lord to the Wellspring” (or in English we can just say spring or fountain).

We can call it:
The Image of the Procession of the Honorable and Life-giving Cross of the Lord to the Fountain.”  It represents the origin of a minor church festival that takes place on August 1st (August 14th in the “new style” calendar).

The festival has a rather confused origin, being associated with four different events.

The first two were victories in battle:

1.  The victory of the Russian forces of Great Prince Andrey Bogoliubskiy against the Bulgarians on August 1st, 1164; an icon of Mary and an image of the cross were used by the Russians in the Battle.

2.  The victory of the Byzantine Emperor Manuel (1143-1180) over the Saracens — also on August 1, in which an icon of Mary and an image of the cross were also said to have been used.

3.  The annual practice, in the city of Constantinople, of taking what was supposed to be the wood of the cross of Jesus from the Royal Treasury on July 31st, and carrying it through the streets to dispel disease, placing it on the altar of the Church of Holy Wisdom, then, on the following day, taking it to the Dormition Church, and letting it be venerated by the people.  Then on August 14th it was taken back to the Imperial palace.

4.  There was also a custom in Constantinople of consecrating the waters and the springs, generally on the 1st of each month, and with this the celebration of the supposed “true cross” was also associated.

In any case, what we see in the icon is the blessing of the waters in Constantinople with the cross, as depicted in this portion, with the Emperor and Empress and a crowd of people and clerics looking on as the cross is used to bless the  waters in a stone wellspring from which a stream flows:

All kinds of people come to the sanctified water flowing from the wellspring, reminiscent of the crowds coming to the waters in the Живоносный источник/Zhivonosnuiy Istochnik/”Life-giving Fountain” type.  Here we see one fellow dipping water from the stream, two others giving it to a prostrate ill woman, and a crippled man with pads on his legs and hands:

Here an ill girl, holding her cup, is brought to the stream in a wheelbarrow;


At right, a boy bathes in the waters as a standing man drinks them from a glass.  And at far right, a demon is expelled from the mouth of a possessed man:


All of this elaborate scene takes place outside the walls of Constantinople.  Note the figure holding the icon of Jesus, with its decorative cloth hanging below it.


If we return to the sky above, we see Jesus blessing from Heaven, with Mary at left and John the Forerunner at right:

Below him are three cherubim, with their title in Slavic separated among the three halos, like this:

ХЕРУ   ВИ  МИ

Херувими/Kheruvimi — “Cherubim.”

Below those three is an angel identified only as a “Holy Angel of the Lord” (with “Holy” and “Lord” abbreviated).

There is some variation from example to example of this type, most notably in who dips the cross into the wellspring in the central scene.  While in this example it is done by a поп/pop — a “priest,” as the Filimonov Podlinnik describes him, in others the cross is dipped by a standing “Angel of the Lord,”

proiskhsangel.jpg

in some by an “Angel of the Lord” flying down,

proiskhozdangelskres.jpg

and in others by three “Angels of the Lord.”

proiskhtrangeli.jpg

The use of an angel is reminiscent of the story of the angel troubling the waters of the Pool of Bethesda in John 5, 1-5, and some icons of that type (the icon for the Sunday of the Paralytic) depict the angel.  Also, some examples depict the wellspring as cross-shaped instead of square or rectangular, as found also in some icons of Jesus and the Samaritan Woman — the “Woman at the Well.”

In Russia, this festival became associated also with the “Baptism” — the conversion — of Russia (actually, originally Kievan Rus, not what we know today as Russia) to Orthodox Christianity in 988 c.e.  On this day there is a lesser blessing of the waters in Russia.  Also, on August 14th now, “Honey Savior” (Медовый Спас/Medovuiy Spas) is celebrated.  It is a pre-Christian festival that was carried on into Christian times.  “Honey Savior” is the first of three such ancient autumn festivals, the following two being “Apple Savior” on August 19th and “Nut Savior” on August 29th.  On “Honey Savior,” people bring their honey from the hives to the church to be blessed, and believe it should not be eaten before that time.  So August 1st is, in folk belief, the beginning of autumn.

Because of its association with the “Baptism of Russia,” August 1st was also Мокрый Спас/Mokruiy Spas — “Wet Savior” — the day on which the waters were blessed, and people took their horses and cattle to the rivers and streams to be bathed.

READING THE SAINTS

If you have been keeping up with my previous postings on reading Church Slavic icon inscriptions, you are likely now the icon expert in your town — perhaps even your county or an even larger region.  So you should have little trouble reading today’s icon, which shows an assembly of various saints.

Such mixtures of saints were generally chosen by the purchaser of the icon, who often included not only family “name saints” but also the chief saints to whom the members of the family prayed for help with this or that problem.

Today’s icon is a good example for reading practice, not only because it shows different kinds of saints, but also because some of the inscriptions are a little worn or damaged here and there, so the reader has to fill in the missing parts:

(Courtesy of Jacksonsauction.com)
(Courtesy of Jacksonsauction.com)

Notice the variation in how the saints are labeled on this icon.  Some have their titles in the icon border, while others have it in or above the halo:

Let’s begin with the angel at the upper left side.  His inscription (partly worn) reads:

Ст Аггель Хранитель
St  Angel’  Khranitel’
In full,
Svyatuiy Angel’ Khranitel’
“Holy Angel Guardian”
Or as we say in English,
“The Holy Guardian Angel.”

Did you remember that the letter combination гг (gg) in Church Slavic is pronounced like “ng”?

You will recall that the Guardian Angel in icons is a generic figure representing the Angel believed to watch over each person.

The saint at left in the nun’s habit is:
Ст Прпдб мчнца Евдокиа
In full:
Святая Преподобная Евдокия
Svyataya Prepodobnaya Evdokiya
“Holy Venerable Evdokia”

I hope you recall that Prepodobnaya does not literally mean “Venerable”; that is just the English term commonly used, because literally Prepodobnaya means “Most-like,” that is, most like Christ, or some say most like humans before the “Fall.”
When you see the combination “ev” in a saint’s name, it often represents the Greek form “eu,” and “k” often becomes “c” in the English form of the name.  So if we were to put Evdokiya’s name into English form, it would be “Eudocia.”

Beside Evdokiya is:

Ст М Иоустиния
Святая Мученица Иоустиния
Svyataya Muchenits Ioustiniya
Holy Martyr Iustinia/Justinia

Iustinia is in the standard garb for a female.

To her right is:

Cт Сщнмчн Киприанъ
Святый Священомученикъ Киприан
Svyatuiy Svyashchenomuchenik Kiprian
Holy Priest-martyr Kiprian/Cyprian

Cyprian’s specialty is protection from demons, sorcery, and witchcraft.

 

Ст Мчнкъ Трифонъ
Святый Мученикъ Трифонъ
Svyatuiy Muchenik Trifon
Holy Martyr Trifon/Triphon

Note the cross in Triphon’s hand.  A white cross is generally held by martyr saints in icons.  You may recall that Triphon is the saint associated with a falcon and with geese, and is prayed to for problems with geese and rodents, etc.

Ст В М Артемий
Святый Великомученикъ Артемий
Svyatuiy Velikomuchenik Artemiy
Holy Great-martyr Artemiy/Artemios

Artemiy is dressed in Roman armor and holds a martyr’s cross and a lance.  His specialty is intestinal problems.

Ст Василий Велики
Святый Василий Великий
Svyatuiy Vasiliy Velikiy
Holy Basil [the] Great

Basil is dressed in bishop’s robes, with an omophorion around his neck, and the Gospels held in is left hand.  Basil’s specialty is aid with studies.

In the photo below, we see Jesus at the top in the clouds, with his usual abbreviation IC XC, Iesous Khristos in Greek — “Jesus Christ”:

Now the saints on the right side of the icon:

The female at top:

Ст Мчнца Агафия
Святая Мученица Агафия
Svyataya Muchenitsa Agafiya
Holy Martyr Agafiya/Agaphia

Agafiya is dressed in the standard garments for a female.

Ст Сщнмчн Зиновий
Святый Священомученикъ Зиновий
Svyatuiy Svyashchenomuchenik Zinoviy
Holy Priest-martyr Zinoviy/Zenobios

Ст В М Варвара
Святауа Великомученица Варвара
Svyataya Velikomuchnitsa Varvara
Holy Great-martyr Barbara

Barbara is dressed as royalty, wearing a crown, and holding a martyr’s cross.  Her speciality is aid in avoiding sudden death.

Прпдбна Мария Егип
Преподобная Мария Египетская
Prepodobnana Mariya Egipetskaya
Venerable Mary of Egypt

You will recall that Mary was a desert-dwelling ascetic, usually shown near-naked.  Her specialty is chastity and help in finding lost things.

The last two saints on this icon are:

Ст В М Димитрий Солу
Святый Димитрий Солунский
Svyatuiy Dimitriy Solunskiy
Holy Dimitriy/Demitrios of Salonika/Thessaloniki

Dimitriy/Dmitriy is one of the most prominent warrior saints.  His specialty is chastity, and he is a popular protector of the young.

Прпд Ануфрий Великий
Преподобный Ануфрий Великий
Prepodobnuiy Anufriy Velikiy
Venerable Anofriy/Onufriy/Onuphrios

As is obvious, Onufriy was another of the desert-dwelling ascetics.  He wears “leaf shorts,” a covering made of leaves.  His name is usually written with an “O,” but here the writer has used an “A” because it has the same pronunciation as an unstressed “O” in Russia.  One often finds this o/a confusion in Russian icon inscriptions.

This is not a very interesting page for the more advanced in reading icons, but for those still learning to read the letters of Church Slavic and basic inscriptions, it should be helpful.  And it should remind you how very repetitive these inscriptions are, so as I always say, a little learning goes a long way, enabling you to read many more icons than one would expect from the small amount of effort necessary to learn such basics.

For those who want to see closer views of the saints full-figure, here is the icon in three segments:

Left:

Center:

Right: