As you may have noticed by now, there is sometimes mixture and confusion in the names given certain Marian icons. For example, we saw in a previous posting how an icon type called Umyagchenie Zluikh’ Serdets’ — “Soften/Melter of Evil Hearts” also has an alternate title:
It is Симеоново проречение — Simeonovo Prorechenie — the “Prediction of Simeon.” This refers to the meeting of the infant Jesus in the Temple at Jerusalem, as given in Luke. The important part for this icon type is found in Luke 2:34-35
34 And Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against;
35 Yes, a sword shall pierce through your own soul also, that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.
Well, there is also another Marian icon type sometimes called “The Prediction of Simeon.” The relationship between the two (and there is one, which is not always the case with these same-name icons) is the presence of a sword. But the type I am discussing today is more commonly called the “‘Weeping at the Cross’ Most Holy Mother of God.”
Here is its title inscription:
ПЛАЧЪ ПРИ КРЕСТЕ ПРЕ[СВЯТЫЯ] Б[ОГОРО]Д[И]ЦЫ PLACH” PRI KRESTE PRES[SVYATUIYA B[OGORO]D[I]TSUI
WEEPING AT [the] CROSS MOST-HOLY BIRTHGIVER-OF-GOD
Now there is no “origin story” for this type, and from its content, it appears to have been borrowed from Roman Catholic iconography.
It depicts Mary standing by the cross, which sometimes has the body of Jesus on it, and sometimes in other icons like this one, does not.
We see a single sword piercing her heart, in keeping with Simeon’s prophecy. The rest of the icon consists of symbols of the Passion.
At left is the pillar to which Jesus was tied when scourged. Atop it is the rooster that crowed when Peter denied Jesus by saying he did not know him. Against the pillar is the ladder used to place Jesus on the cross and to remove him. At the base of the icon we see the pincers used to remove the nails from the cross, then the nails, then the hammer used to insert the nails, then the bag with the 30 pieces of silver for which Judas betrayed Jesus, and finally the scourge used to whip Jesus. In the background we see a wall and some buildings, representing the walled city of Jerusalem.
Here is another example of the type:
Perhaps you can see that the icon appears to be painted in the “Vetka” manner.
Now as we can see, there are a few differences from the previous icon — but of course it is still the same type.
Or in normal English, the “Weeping’ Most Holy Mother of God.”
This one also has the body of Jesus on the cross, along with the spear and sponge on a reed used at the Crucifixion. It also includes the sun and moon, found in most Crucifixion icons.
At the base, it includes even more symbols taken from the Passion narratives than the previous example.
This example also includes a text at upper right, taken from what is sung during the veneration of the shroud on Holy Friday:
Увы мне чадо мое, увы мне свете мой, и утроба моя возлюбленная.
Симеон бо прорече, сбысться днесь глаголюшее в церкви.
Твое сердце оружие пройдет.
Но в радость воскресения Твоего, плачь преложи.
“Alas for me my Child! Alas for me, Light of my eyes and beloved fruit of my womb! For what Simeon foretold in the temple is come to pass today: ‘A sword shall pierce your heart.’ But your resurrection shall change the weeping to joy.”
Here is a rather beautiful relevant hymn — the “Weeping of the Mother of God,” taken from an Old Believer setting:
Now perhaps you noticed a similarity between the “Weeping at the Cross” type and the Akhtuirskaya type (discussed previously; see archives). Here is an example — one of those “red” icons:
The chief difference, of course, is that in the Akhtuirskaya there is no sword and no symbols of the Passion other than the cross.
It is called the “Terebinskiya/Terebinskaya/ Most Holy Mother of God.” It is counted among the supposedly “wonderworking” Marian icons, but there is not much to say about it, because not much is known about it, and what is known is vague and uncertain.
The standard accounts say that it was among the belongings of a landowner named Mikhail Obutkov, who had a wooden church in honor of St. Nicholas built in 1492 at the village then called Terebeni. After building the church, Obutkov is said to have placed two of his most valued icons in the church. One was of Nicholas, the other was the “Terebinskaya” icon of Mary.
There is another account saying that the icon miraculously appeared to a boy near the Terebinsk Monastery, founded in 1641 on or near the site of Obutkov’s old church. So we can tell right off that the origin of the icon is uncertain.
The icon became known as a “wonderworker” in 1654, and it supposedly helped to end a plague of cholera. In any case, something happened to the original Terebinskaya icon, which no longer exists. The icon now known as the Terebinskaya is a copy kept in the Nikolo-Terebenskaya Hermitage of the Tver Diocese (what is today the Nikolo-Terebensk Convent), near the Mologa River. That means what was once a male monastery is today a nunnery.
Some examples of the icon — like that above — make it rather unclear what the curved surface is that the child Jesus is standing on — but others make it quite explicitly a globe. In others there is no globe at all, and Jesus is standing either on a curve in Mary’s garments or on her knees.
In earlier postings I discussed the common icon type of the “Entry of the Mother of God into the Temple.”
Today I want to mention an often overlooked or misunderstood element of “Entry” icons. We see it in the upper left corner of this example:
Here is a closer look at the element in question:
We see Mary sitting in an enclosure (often with three steps), and an angel near her.
Here is an older example — a 14th century fresco from the Khilandari Monastery on Mount Athos. The image of the angel flying down to Mary is at upper right:
Now what is depicted in this common element of “Entry” icons is the Archangel Gabriel (often not named) flying down to the child Mary in the Temple. He carries a round loaf of bread in his hand to feed her. This element should not be confused with the later appearance of Gabriel to Mary at the Annunciation.
This feeding of Mary by Gabriel comes from extra-biblical tradition, including the apocryphal Protoevangelion of James. The story is that Mary was taken to the Temple at age three by her parents Joachim and Anna, and was left there to be raised in the Temple.
We find this in the Protoevangelion of James:
“And her parents went down marveling, and praising the Lord god, because the child had not turned back. And Mary was in the temple of the Lord as if she were a dove that dwelt there, and she received food from the hand of an angel. And when she was twelve years old there was held a council of the priests, saying: Behold, Mary has reached the age of twelve years in the temple of the Lord. What then shall we do with her, lest perchance she defile the sanctuary of the Lord? And they said to the high priest: You stand by the altar of the Lord; go in, and pray concerning her; and whatever the Lord shall manifest unto you, that also will we do. And the high priest went in, taking the robe with the twelve bells into the holy of holies; and he prayed about her. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood by him, saying to him: Zacharias, Zacharias, go out and assemble the widowers of the people, and let them bring each his rod; and to whoever the Lord shall show a sign, his wife shall she be.”
The apocryphal Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew adds further details:
“And Mary was held in admiration by all the people of Israel; and when she was three years old, she walked with a step so mature, she spoke so perfectly, and spent her time so assiduously in the praises of God, that all were astonished at her, and wondered; and she was not reckoned a young infant, but as it were a grown-up person of thirty years old. She was so constant in prayer, and her appearance was so beautiful and glorious, that scarcely any one could look into her face. And she occupied herself constantly with her wool-work, so that she in her tender years could do all that old women were not able to do. And this was the order that she had set for herself: (2) From the morning to the third hour she remained in prayer; from the third to the ninth she was occupied with her weaving; and from the ninth she again applied herself to prayer. She did not retire from praying until there appeared to her the angel of the Lord, from whose hand she used to receive food; and thus she became more and more perfect in the work of God. Then, when the older virgins rested from the praises of God, she did not rest at all; so that in the praises and vigils of God none were found before her, no one more learned in the wisdom of the law of God, more lowly in humility, more elegant in singing, more perfect in all virtue. She was indeed steadfast, immovable, unchangeable, and daily advancing to perfection. No one saw her angry, nor heard her speaking evil. All her speech was so full of grace, that her God was acknowledged to be in her tongue. She was always engaged in prayer and in searching the law, and she was anxious lest by any word of hers she should sin with regard to her companions. Then she was afraid lest in her laughter, or the sound of her beautiful voice, she should commit any fault, or lest, being elated, she should display any wrong- doing or haughtiness to one of her equals. (3) She blessed God without intermission; and lest perchance, even in her salutation, she might cease from praising God; if any one saluted her, she used to answer by way of salutation: Thanks be to God. And from her the custom first began of men saying, Thanks be to God, when they saluted each other. She refreshed herself only with the food which she daily received from the hand of the angel; but the food which she obtained from the priests she divided among the poor. The angels of God were often seen speaking with her, and they most diligently obeyed her. If any one who was unwell touched her, the same hour he went home cured.”
Some icons of the “Entry” depict Gabriel flying down to Mary, but do not show the bread in his hands.
In his sermon on the Entry of the Mother of God into the Temple, Gregory of Palamas (c. 1296 – 1359) wrote that not only was the child Mary fed by the angel, but she also entered the Holy of Holies — the innermost sanctuary of the Temple:
“Now, when Righteous Joachim and Anna saw that they had been granted their wish, and that the divine promise to them was realized in fact, then they on their part, as true lovers of God, hastened to fulfill their vow given to God as soon as the child had been weaned from milk. They have now led this truly sanctified child of God, now the Mother of God, this virgin into the Temple of God. And she, being filled with Divine gifts even at such a tender age, … she, rather than others, determined what was being done over Her. In Her manner she showed that she was not so much presented into the Temple, but that she herself entered into the service of God of her own accord, as if she had wings, striving towards this sacred and divine love. She considered it desirable and fitting that she should enter into the Temple and dwell in the Holy of Holies.
Therefore, the High Priest, seeing that this child, more than anyone else, had divine grace within Her, wished to set her within the Holy of Holies. He convinced everyone present to welcome this, since God had advanced it and approved it. Through His angel, God assisted the Virgin and sent her mystical food, with which she was strengthened in nature, while in body She was brought to maturity and was made purer and more exalted than the angels, having the Heavenly spirits as servants. She was led into the Holy of Holies not just once, but was accepted by God to dwell there with him during Her youth, so that through her, the heavenly abodes might be opened and given for an eternal habitation to those who believe in her miraculous birthgiving.
So it is, and this is why she, from the beginning of time, was chosen from among the chosen. She Who is manifest as the Holy of Holies, who has a body even purer than the spirits purified by virtue, is capable of receiving … the hypostatic Word of the unoriginate Father. Today the ever-virgin Mary, like a Treasure of God, is stored in the Holy of Holies, so that in due time, (as it later came to pass) She would serve for the enrichment of, and an ornament for, all the world. Therefore, Christ God also glorifies his mother, both before birth, and also after birth.”
As I have often mentioned, when historical information was lacking, people just made things up to fill the gaps. That is Eastern Orthodox tradition.
Today, if similar things happened to a three-year-old female child, being left by her parents at three, engaged to an adult old man and married off between 12 and 14, we would consider it child abuse, and the parents would be arrested.
Here is another multiple icon — this time with no quarter devoted only to various saints. Instead, all four main images are Marian icons:
First — at upper left — is the type you should be very familiar with by now — the “Joy to All Who Suffer.” So we need not deal with that one, other than to remind you that any accompanying saints vary from example to example. You will find a description of the type in this previous posting, as well as in others via the archives:
The title inscription above the shoulder identifies it as the ФЕОДОРОВСКЯ ПРЕСВЯТЫЯ БОГОРОДИЦЫ/FEODOROVSKAYA PRESVYATUIYA BOGORODITSUI — the “‘FEODOROV’ MOST HOLY MOTHER OF GOD.”
The Feodorovskaya or “Theodore” icon is another of those mistakenly attributed by tradition to St. Luke. Its tale says it was in Russia as early as the beginning of the 12th century, and was placed in a monastery in Gorodets that was then burned by Batu Khan and his Mongol horde. Yet supposedly the icon survived the flames.
The tale continues with Prince Vasiliy of Kostroma (younger brother of Alexander Nevskiy), who got lost in the forest while hunting near Kostroma on August 16, 1239. He noticed an icon in a pine tree (there’s that common “icon in a tree” motif again). When he attempted to take the icon down, it suddenly rose up into the air. Vasiliy then went into Kostroma and told the people and clergy there about the icon, and when they went to look for it, they found it was there in the forest again. So after praying before the icon, they took it into Kostroma and placed it in the cathedral, where it attracted crowds. Supposedly, while Vasiliy was out hunting, a richly-dressed warrior was seen walking through Kostroma’s streets, carrying an icon in his hands. This was understood to be a visitation by the warrior saint Feodor/Theodore, and so the icon was called the “Feodor/Theodore” icon — the Feodorovskaya.
The tale relates that when the Kostroma Cathedral then burnt, the Feodorovskaya icon was again found unharmed in the ashes.
The Tatars again came to pillage the city in 1260, but the Prince took the Feodorovskaya icon into battle, and the legend says that such a brilliant and dazzling light shone from it that it blinded and burned the Tatars, who fled in disarray.
Later the Kostroma Cathedral again caught fire, and when the people went to rescue the icon, they found it hovering above the flames. The people prayed to have it not abandon them because of their sins, and it descended and was retrieved, and later placed in a stone church.
The Fedorovskaya icon was carried by a group of Kostroma clergy in their meeting with a delegation of clergy and boyars and others from Moscow, who had come bearing the Vladimir icon to ask the young Mikhail Feodorovich to become Tsar. Eventually he was persuaded, and became the first Tsar of the House of Romanov — the ruling Dynasty that ended with the abdication of Tsar Nicholas II in 1917. So the Feodorovskaya icon was considered an important image for the Romanovs.
Here is the icon type at lower left:
The title above her shoulder reads:
ОТ БЕД СТРAЖДУЩИХЪ OT BED STRAZHDUSHCHIKH”
Ot Bed Strazhdushchikh means “Of the Suffering from Distress,” but this type is sometimes given the fuller title Избавление От Бед Страждущих — Izbavlenie Ot Bed Strazhdushchikh — “Deliverance of the Suffering From Distress” — which makes a bit more sense. In the Canon to the Mother of God are the words Богородица Владычица, поспеши и от бед избавь нас/Bogoroditsa Vladuichitsa, pospeshi i ot bed izabav’ nas — “Mother of God, Mistress, hasten and from distress deliver us.” Little is known of its origin, but it was a popular image among the Old Believers.
Here is the icon type at lower right:
Now as you can tell, it is a version of the Млекопитательница/Mlekopitatelnitsa/”Milk-Nourishing” icon type, but this example is given the title inscription
БЛАЖЕННОЕ ЧРЕВО ПРЕСВЯТЫЯ БОГОРОДИЦЫ BLAZHENNOE CHREVO PRESVYATUIYA BOGORODITSUI
“‘BLESSED WOMB’ MOST HOLY MOTHER OF GOD
The “Blessed Womb” type is essentially the same in appearance as the Barlovskaya icon, which supposedly appeard in 1392. But be careful — there is also a locally-venerated icon called “Blessed Womb” that looks nothing like this type. Here is an example:
It is not hard to tell that the “Blessed Womb” title derives from Luke 11:27: “Blessed is the womb that bore You and the breasts that you have sucked.”
To complete the discussion of this multiple icon, we need only look at the image in the central circle:
The name inscription identifies him as СВЯТЫЙ РАФАИЛЪ АРХАНГЕЛ/SVYATUIY RAFAIL ARKHANGEL/”HOLY ARCHANGE RAPHAEL.
Raphael was considered an angel of healing, and also a patron of travelers.
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:
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.
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
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:
“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:
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:
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 Great Martyr Dimitriy/Demetrios
At right, from top:
Holy Great Martyr Artemiy/Artemios
Holy Martyr Anastasia
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.