THE SECOND HOLY FOOL PROKOPIY

There are many little pitfalls in the identification of icons, so one must be very careful when something seems a little off.  Here, for example is an icon of a saint named Prokopiy:

It is rather odd, showing the same saint standing at left, and again dead in his coffin at right.

If we look at the title inscription, we might think at first that he is the Holy Fool Prokopiy of Ustiug/Ustiuzh, because we see the name Prokopiy (Прокопий ), and the first letters of the word following that are “Us-” ( Ус-).

But if we stopped there, we would be wrong in identification.  There are two clues to tell us that.  First, Prokopiy of Ustiug is generally shown with a beard, and this fellow is beardless.  Second, the word following the name on the icon, though it begins with “Us-,” has an ending that does not spell Ustiuzhskiy, as in Prokopiy of Ustiug/Ustiuzh.  Instead it ends in “-yan.”

If we put those clues together, then this tells us that the icon is not of the famous Holy Fool Prokopiy of Ustiug, but instead of a rather obscure saint named  Праведный Проко́пий Устья́нский —  Pravednuiy Prokopiy Ustyanskiy —  Righteous Prokopiy of Ustya, sometimes also called Усья́нский (Usyanskiy).

Further confusing the issue, this second and lesser-known Propkopiy was also considered to be a holy fool, or “Fool for Christ’s Sake” as the full title goes.

Now the really odd thing about this second Holy Fool Prokopiy is that absolutely nothing is known about his life.  No one ever heard of him, in fact, before an unidentified body was discovered in the middle of the 17th century.  It was found buried in a willow coffin exposed by the Ustya (Устья) ) River in the Vazhskiy district of Arkhangelsk Province, not far from the village of Veryuga (now Bestuzhevo).  It was said that a “fragrance” was smelled when the body was found, and that it was “incorrupt.”  In addition, it is said that healings began to occur due to the body.

Now as you may recall from a previous posting here,  in traditional Slavic belief, an undecayed body may signify either a saint or a vampire, depending on what additional events accompany such a discovery.  Fragrance is one of the traditional hints that an incorrupt body is a saint.  That is what the local people assumed in this case, so they built a chapel over the body.

The next major event in the story is that a fellow named Saveliy Ontropov (Antropov) had a dream in which the former resident of the body appeared to him, revealed his name as Prokopiy, and told him to place the body in a new coffin.  That was done, and the body in the coffin was then moved to the church, where a service to this supposed saint Prokopiy was initiated.

Later, a Solvychegodsk merchant named Ivan Ermolaev claimed Propkopiy appeared to him, giving authorization for an icon to be painted of him.  Ermolaev hired an icon painter named Onisim Karamzin to paint the first icon of this previously unknown saint Prokopiy.  The icon was made in 1652.

Making all this even stranger, around the beginning of the 19th century, the body was re-examined by authorities and found not to be genuinely incorrupt, and an official declaration was made in 1801 that prayers were not to be made to the supposed saint, but that did not stop the local people, who continued to venerate “their” saint, and the saint’s name was even included in some church lists of saints as a holy fool, and a pamphlet published in the last quarter of the 19th century listed some twenty healings attributed to this Prokopiy between 1641 and 1750, with forty more happening in the interval until 1913.  There is some confusion over the texts supporting wider veneration of Prokopiy, but nonetheless, he became a popular local saint in the northern region, and was particularly prayed to for rain in time of drought, or to prevent excessive rain.  Sometimes he was said to appear, either in the form of a young man or an old man.

The remains of the body of the supposed Prokopiy were destroyed by burning during the Soviet era (it is said that the locals may have retrieved bits from the ashes) in January of 1939, and the church where they had been kept was taken apart for its building materials.

In this old photograph we see the annual religious procession to the Vvdenie (“Entry” [of the Mother of God into the Temple]) Church where the relics of the supposed Prokopiy were kept, on the day of Prokopiy’s commemoration — July 8th/21.

Though Prokopiy was not officially “glorified” (the Eastern Orthodox version of canonization), his veneration continues to this day in the Arkhangelsk region.

As you have probably learned by now, the accumulation of the vast list of saints in Eastern Orthodoxy was often accomplished by dubious or non-existent evidence, and Prokopiy of Ustya certainly fits that pattern.

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WOODEN GODS

Zavodphoto.ru

(Zavodfoto.ru / Zavodfoto.livejournal.com)

I have mentioned previously that sculpture in the round — carved, standing, three dimensional religious images — tended not to be favored in Eastern Orthodoxy, where one usually finds the two-dimensional painted icons of deity and saints.  But that does not mean such religious statues did not exist in Eastern Orthodoxy at all.

You may recall that in 1721, Peter the Great created the so-called “Most Holy Governing Synod” (Святейший Правительствующий Синод) to head the Russian Orthodox Church, taking the authority formerly held by a patriarch.  Peter replaced that patriarchate with the Synod, which continued in office until the restoration of the patriarchate in 1918.

The Synod interests us here because in 1722 it issued a decree including regulations intended to control the making of icons.  Among those regulations, it forbade “to have in churches carved or sculpted icons” (“иметь в церквах иконы резные, или истесанные”).  It blamed the presence of such icons in Russia on the Catholics and Poles.

(Zavodfoto.ru.com / Zavodfoto.livejournal.com)

As is usual with church decrees, however, it was not always and everywhere taken seriously.  That is why, in churches here and there, carved statues (usually in wood) of noted saints such as Nicholas (in the “of Mozhaisk” type), Paraskeva and George were still to be found — in fact, as we have seen in previous postings, some such statues were considered to be “wonder working,” that is, accompanied by and able to work miracles.  In the case of statues of Jesus as the sorrowing “Savior in the Dungeon” or “Midnight Savior” (Спас в темнице / Spas v temnitse,  Спас Полуночный / Spas Polunochnuiy) it was even thought such images had the power to walk about.  Incidentally, the “Savior in the Dungeon” or “Midnight Savior” type — found also in panel icon form — appeared in Russian iconography in the 17th century, apparently borrowed — as some Orthodox icon types were over the years — including certain examples considered to be “wonder working” — from western Catholic art.

(Zavodfoto.ru.com / Zavodfoto.livejournal.com)

Also mentioned in a previous posting was the use of the colloquial term “God-daubers” for icon painters.  Similarly, icon statues in Russian churches were also sometimes termed “bogi” — “gods.”  For example, in the Urals — in the province of Perm — were found the so-called “Permian Gods” (Пермские боги / Permskie bogi), the present examples of which date from the 17th-19th centuries.  Highly favored by the local people,  these statues — in spite of church decrees — held their places in the rural churches.

We should not be surprised at the term “gods” being used for these figures, because as we have seen in the development of Christian art, the biblical deity and Christian saints replaced the older polytheistic gods — not only in Egypt and Rome, but also eventually (though much later) in the Russian countryside.

For those of you who read German, there is an interesting book on the subject of Russian Orthodox three-dimensional icon statues.  It is titled Verbotene Bilder; Heiligenfiguren aus Russland (Forbidden Images; Sacred Figures from Russia) by Marianne Stößl (Stössl), Hirmer Verlag, München (Munich), 2006.

NICHOLAS MILITANT

A reader recently sent me photos of an interesting icon.  Here it is, set in its richly ornamental gilt frame, kept in a glassed-in kiot (protective icon case):

(Courtesy of Jacques Willemen)

The important part, for our purposes, is the icon itself:

(Courtesy of Jacques Willemen)

Well, it looks quite straightforward, doesn’t it?  It has all the characteristics of the type known as Nicholas of Mozhaisk, which depicts St. Nikolai (Nicholas) standing, robed as a bishop, with a sword in his left hand and a church in his right.

We can see that the inscription above Nicholas is a common one:

It reads:

С[ВЯ]ТЫЙ НИКОЛАИ ЧУДОТВОРЕЦЪ
SVYATUIY NIKOLAI CHUDOTVORETS
“HOLY NICHOLAS [the] WONDERWORKER”

If we left it at that, however, we would be a little too hasty and not quite entirely correct in identification of this icon.  It is important not to miss the little inscription at the base of the image; inscriptions should never be overlooked.  Here is a closer view:

It reads (put into modern Russian font):
ЯВИСЯ ВЪ Г[ОРОДЕ] МЦЕНСКЕ 1415
YAVISYA V G[ORODE] MTSENSKYE 1415
“APPEARED IN [the] CITY MTSENSK 1415”

Well, we know that the Nicholas of Mozhaisk icon itself did not “appear” in 1415, according to its origin story, but rather in the 1300s.  Nor did the legendary event of Nicholas appearing in the air over the city happen in a place called Mtsensk, but rather in the city of Mozhaisk.  What, then, is the significance of this “1415” inscription and the place name “Mtsensk”?  And where exactly is this “Mtsensk”?  Why all these differences?

The answer is that even though this icon is in the form commonly known as “Nicholas of Mozhaisk” it represents a particular “appearance” of an icon of that form — an “appearance” other than that at Mozhaisk.

First, what or where is Mtsensk (Мценскъ)?

It is a city in the Orlov region of Russia.  Here it is on an 1897 map, just about in the center of this image.  You can see there is a river running through it, called the Zusha:

At lower left is the city of Orel (Орелъ ).

To get a wider view of where it is in Russia, we can look at another map.  We can see the city of Orel southwest of Moscow, about two thirds of the way to the Ukrainian border:

So that tells us where Mtsensk is located.  Now for the origin story of the icon.

The origin story is a bit confused and varies from account to account.  It is said that on a Friday — June 7th of 1415 — the region of Mtsensk was still heavily pagan.  But on that day there was an eclipse of the sun, which the clerics used to frighten the people into becoming baptized as Christians.

It is also said that in the same year and day, a stone — formerly worshiped by the pagan people — was found floating in the Zusha River at Mtsensk. On it was an image of Nicholas with a sword in one hand and in the other a reliquary in the form of a church.  Such an image (which type we now generally call “Nicholas of Mozhaisk”) is commonly known as Николай Ратный —Nikolai Ratnuiy — “Nicholas the Militant.”  And the image that “appeared” at Mtsensk is one example of that type, and in itself is called Nikolai Mtsenskiy  — Nicholas of Mtsensk, or Никола Амченский — Nikola Amchenskiy — “Nicholas of Amchen,” Nikola being a form of Nicholas, and Amchensk being a popular alternate name for the city of Mtsensk.  This icon was also credited — through its supposed miraculous nature — with the conversion of the locals to Christianity.

Scholars, however, generally believe that these “Militant Nicholas” types are likely based upon Western European sculptures of Nicholas, related to that at Bari, in Italy, where the remains of St. Nicholas are thought to have been taken.  Further, that such statues came to Russia as reliquaries in the form of Nicholas given to Russian princes, and supposedly holding relics of the saint. Though three-dimensional sculpture is generally frowned upon in Russian Orthodoxy, such statues of the “Militant Nicholas” were made an exception due to the great veneration accorded them by the people, and the miracles supposedly associated with them.

So it turns out this little icon is actually quite interesting, given that it specifically commemorates the story of the appearance of an image of Nicholas at Mtsensk, which became a noted pilgrimage site in the old days of Tsarist Russia, with thousands of pilgrims, some coming from as far away as Siberia.  And the coming of pilgrims meant money.

One more little detail, and then we will leave this interesting icon.  If we look just below the figure of Nicholas, we can see that he is standing on a rug:

On that rug is the image of an eagle, though it is upside-down, with the head nearest us and the tops of the wings at each side.  Such a rug — called an Орлец — Orlets — “Little Eagle / Eaglet” is used in the Orthodox liturgy, and is round or oval.  The bishop stands upon it at certain parts of the rite.  It depicts an eagle with wings spread, often flying above a city.  The Orlets was once a sign of the Byzantine Emperor’s authority.  In those days it was a double-headed Byzantine Imperial eagle.  Then it became a kind of respectful award given by the Emperor to the Patriarch.  Later, when the Byzantine Empire had fallen,  it came to be used by any bishop in Russia, signifying both the status of the bishop as having a heavenly origin, as well as a sign of the bishop’s oversight of the people of a city, (his diocese), and that a bishop should “rise above” worldly things.  In Russia it was a one-headed eagle.  We can just think of it as a bishop’s symbol.

ONE HAIRY JOHN, ONE NOT SO HAIRY

This is an image of a Russian saint called Иоа́нн Власатый — Ioann Vlasatuiy — “John the Hairy.”  He is said to have that title because of the long and abundant hair on his head.

The abbreviated title inscription (with missing letters added) reads:
СВЯТЫ ИОАНН РОСТОВСКИЙ ЧУДОТВОРЕЦ МИЛОСТИВЫЙ
Svyatui Ioann Rostovskiy Chudotvorets Milostivuiy
Holy    John of-Rostov     Wonderworker Merciful
“Holy John of Rostov, Wonderworker, the Merciful”

The image is part of this larger 18th century Rostov icon showing scenes from his life as well as a Deisis at the top:

John is one of those saints called Блаженный —  Blazhennuiy  — “Blessed,” the title used for a юродивый — iurodivuiy/yurodivy — a “fool for Christ’s sake” — one of those fellows who behaved as though crazy, supposedly out of humility.

No one seems to know where John came from.  He lived in Rostov during the reign of Ivan Groznuiy — “Ivan the Terrible” (1547-1584), and is thought to have been educated and to have known Latin, because he carried with him and read a Latin Psalter.  It is supposed that he may have left Moscow to avoid all the troubles under Tsar Ivan, going to Rostov to live as a “holy fool.”  John died on September 3, 1580, and there was a terrible storm during his funeral, with much thunder and lightning.  The old stories say that many people who took sand from his grave and mixed it with water and drank it, or smeared it on their bodies, were healed by it.

John was supposedly named for another saint who is also called “John the Merciful,” but that would be the John who was Patriarch of Alexandria in the early 7th century, though he is said to have died in Cyprus.  It is easy to distinguish him from John the Hairy by his bishop’s robe, his shorter hair, and his long, sharp grey beard.

We see this earlier John the Merciful’s title inscription at left and right, with a slightly different spelling in the abbreviation, but easily recognizable nonetheless.  John’s scroll inscription is an excerpt from a prayer that the priest says quietly during the Liturgy of John Chrysostom:

Тебе предлагаем живот наш весь и надежду, Владыко Человеколюбче, и просим, и молим, и милися деем: [сподоби нас причаститися Небесных Твоих и Страшных Таин, сея священныя и духовныя Трапезы, с чистою совестию, во оставление грехов, в прощение согрешений, во общение Духа Святаго, в наследие Царствия Небеснаго, и дерзновение еже к Тебе, не в суд или во осуждение.]

We entrust to you, man-loving Master, our whole life and hope, and we
ask, pray, and entreat: [make us worthy to partake of your heavenly
and awesome mysteries from this holy and spiritual table with a
clean conscience; for the remission of sins, forgiveness of
transgressions, communion of the Holy Spirit, inheritance of the
Kingdom of Heaven, confidence before You, and not in judgment or
condemnation.]

 

 

COME YOU PEOPLE

Here is a 17th century icon given the title  “Come You People, Let Us Worship the Three-Hypostatic Godhood.”  But if you have been reading here for some time, you will recognize it as basically just a more elaborate version of the New Testament Trinity “Among the Powers,” that is, among the ranks of angels.

As you saw in an earlier posting (https://russianicons.wordpress.com/2014/02/12/cherubim-and-seraphim-and-thrones-o-my-the-new-testament-trinity-icon/), icons of the New Testament Trinity are sometimes given the title “Image of the Three-Hypostatic Godhood” (ОБРАЗ ТРIИПОСТАСНАГО БОЖЕСТВА — Obraz Triipostasnago Bozhestva).

In the center we see Jesus at left, God the Father (Lord Sabaoth) at right, and the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove in the air between them.

The title of this icon is taken from the Stikhera, tone 8, used at the Great Vespers Pentecost service:

Приидите, людие, триипостасному божеству поклонимся, Сыну во Отце, со
Святым Духом: Отец бо безлетно роди Сына соприсносущна и сопрестольна, и
Дух Святый бе во Отце, с Сыном прославляемь: едина сила, едино существо,
едино божество, емуже покланяющеся вси глаголем: Святый Боже, вся
соделавый Сыном, содейством Святаго Духа: Святый крепкий, имже Отца
познахом и Дух Святый прииде в мир: Святый безсмертный, утешительный
Душе, от Отца исходяй, и в Сыне почиваяй: Троице Святая, слава Тебе.

Come you people, let us worship the Three-hypostatic Godhood; the Son in the Father, with the Holy Spirit; for the Father before time begot the Son ever co-existing and co-enthroned; and the Holy Spirit was in the Father, glorified together with the Son; one power, one substance, one Godhood, in whom worshiping  we all say:
Holy God, who made all by the Son, with the co-operation of the Holy Spirit;
Holy Mighty, through whom we have known the Father, and the Holy Spirit came to the world; Holy Immortal, comforting Spirit, who proceeds from the Father and rests in the Son; Holy Trinity, glory to you.”

In the 16th century there was a big controversy over the making and use of such elaborate and symbolic “mystic-didactic” icons as this one and others, among them “In the Grave Fleshly,” “Sophia, Wisdom of God,” “On the Seventh Day God Rested,” “It is Worthy,” the “Symbol of Faith,” the politically propagandistic “Blessed is the Army of the Heavenly Tsar,” and “The Only Begotten Son.”  The complaint was that they could not and did not adequately and correctly express the dogmas of the Church, and that their complexity was simply confusing.  The leader of the opposition to such icons was a prominent government secretary and “Keeper of the Seal” under Tsar Ivan IV (“Ivan the Terrible”) named Ivan Mikhailovich Viskovatuiy (Иван Михайлович Висковатый).  But a Church council in 1554 condemned his views (with some small exceptions), and he consequently repented his “heretical” ideas and fell in line with the decree.

Rather confusingly, there is another and unusual icon type also called “Come You People, Let Us Worship the Three-Hypostatic Godhood.”  But this second type also includes images of the Annunciation, the Birth of Jesus, the Crucifixion, and the Descent into Hades (Resurrection), so it is easily distinguished from the first type.

At the top we see a “Fatherhood” image in the center, with Mary to the left of it and John the Forerunner to the right.  At far left is the youthful Christ enthroned, and at far right the mature Christ enthroned.  Angels accompany these three top images, and at the base is a gathering of people worshiping the Trinity.

 

TWO EUCHARISTIC ICON TYPES

Today we will take a look at two Eucharistic types  — more of those “mystic-didactic” icons that became prominent in the 16th and 17th centuries.

The first is titled “Let All Human Flesh be Silent.”  The title is taken from this excerpt from the Liturgy of St. Basil, used in the Eucharistic celebration on Holy Saturday (the Saturday before Easter Sunday) in place of the usual “Cherubic Hymn.”

Да молчит всякая плоть человеча, и да стоит со страхом и трепетом, и ничтоже земное в себе да помышляет; Царь бо царствующих, и Господь господствующих, приходит заклатися и датися в снедь верным. Предходят же Сему лицы ангельстии со всяким Началом и Властию, многоочитии Херувими, и шестокрилатии Серафими, лица закрывающе, и вопиюще песнь: Аллилуйя, Аллилуйя, Аллилуйя.

Let all human flesh be silent, and let it stand with fear and trembling, and let itself consider nothing earthly; for the King of Kings and Lord of Lords comes forth to be sacrificed and given as food to the believers; and there go before him the choirs of Angels, with every Dominion and Power, many-eyed Cherubim and six-winged Seraphim, covering their faces, and singing out the hymn: Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia.

What we see in the 16th century example above is the so-called “Great Entrance,” when the clergy bring the bread and wine to be placed upon the altar.  We see the “Three Hierarchs” — Gregory the Theologian, John Chrysostom and Basil the Great standing by the altar.  The procession coming from the left side is led by a deacon with a candle, followed by another holding a chalice (potir in Slavic) and a censer (kadilo in Slavic).  Behind him comes a bishop holding a diskos above his head.  That is the vessel on which the liturgical bread lies — represented in the icon by the body of Christ Immanuel (Jesus as child or youth).  The asteriskos (the open metal  support for the covering cloth) that represents the Star of Bethlehem is over it.  The last person in the procession holds aloft the aer (vozdukh in Slavic) — the covering cloth that will lie upon the asteriskos (zvezditsa in Slavic) to cover the diskos.  In the air above, we see various ranks of angels — cherubim, seraphim, thrones (the names “Dominion” and Power”  in the liturgical excerpt represent ranks of angels).  We also see other familiar figures, among them apostles and John the Forerunner (with wings), as well as the Repentant Thief Rakh holding his cross.  The crowds of  people without halos in the foreground represent the “All Human Flesh” that is supposed to be silent.  God the Father (Lord Sabaoth) is at upper left, with the Holy Spirit as a dove proceeding from him.  The general idea of the icon is that the ranks of angels are present and participating invisibly in the celebration of the Eucharist.

Here is another “Stroganov School” example from the 17th century:

damolchitstrog17theeuw_1

(Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow)

Here is a rather more elaborate 17th century version of the same type, showing the ranks of angels separated into different circles, along with many more saints of various kinds:

The other Eucharistic icon type we will look at today is “Who Mystically Represent the Cherubim,” a title which is taken from the so-called “Cherubic Hymn” of the liturgy.  This hymn is the one ordinarily sung during the liturgy, but on Holy Saturday it is replaced, as we have seen, by the “Let All Human Flesh be Silent” version.

Иже херувимы тайно образующе,
и Животворящей Троицѣ трисвятую пѣснь припѣвающе,
Всякое нынѣ житейское отложимъ попеченіе.
Яко да Царя всѣхъ подъимемъ,
ангельскими невидимо дориносима чинми.
Аллилуіа

“[We] who cherubim mystically represent
And to the Life-bearing Trinity the “Thrice Holy” hymn sing,
All cares of life let us now put aside
So we may receive the Tsar of all,
By invisible ranks of angels escorted.
Alleluia.

The “Thrice Holy” hymn is of course the “Holy, Holy, Holy” of Isaiah 6:1-3:

And it came to pass in the year in which king Ozias died, that I saw the Lord sitting on a high and exalted throne, and the house was full of his glory.  And seraphim stood round about him: each one had six wings: and with two they covered their face, and with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew. And one cried to the other, and they said, Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.

We see the Cherubic Hymn written in Slavic across the top of this example, a 16th century icon from the Annunciation Cathedral in the city of Solvuichegodsk (Сольвычегодск):

(Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow)

In the top circle — surrounded by angels — is the Otechestvo — the “Fatherhood” — showing God the Father (Lord Sabaoth) with Jesus as Immanuel on his lap.  Below him is Jesus robed as the Great High Priest, celebrating the Eucharistic liturgy, surrounded by angels and saints.  At his far left and far right, angels perform the Proskomedia — the preparation of the bread and wine for the Eucharist.  At lower left we see angels forming the procession of the Great Entry, and Jesus again at the lower center.  The figures without halos at lower right are said to represent the wealthy Stroganov family, patrons of the Solvuichegodsk Cathedral.

 

THE PSALM 44 ICON

Today’s icon, from the 16th century, is related both to the Deisis sub-type commonly called “The Queen Stands at Your Right,” and to “Sophia, Wisdom of God.”  We shall see the relationships on closer examination.

(Andrei Rublyov Museum, Moscow)

This icon takes its title from the words of Psalm 44 (45 in King James Version numbering), rendered in the KJV as “My heart is inditing a good matter.”  When did you ever hear anyone use the word “indite”?  In English it means “to compose”  But in the Slavic Version it is:

Отрыгну Сердце Мое Слово Благо
Otruigny Serdtse Moe Slovo Blago

We can translate it rather literally as:
Gives-forth    Heart   of-me a Word Good
In normal English,
My Heart is Uttering a Good Word.

Oddly enough, the word I translate here as “gives forth” and “utters” commonly means “to belch” or “to vomit” in modern Russian.

The key to the icon lies in the “good Word” mentioned, and if we look at the Greek Septuagint version, it helps us to better see why:

Εξηρευξατο ἡ καρδία μου λόγον ἀγαθόν
Exereuxato he kardia mou logon agathon…

Logon is the accusative form of logos, meaning “word.”  You will recall that the first words of the Gospel of John are:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and God was the Word.”  And you will recall that the “Word” —  the Logos — of God in icons is Jesus.

So the Word — the Slovo or Logos in Psalm 44 — is understood in Eastern Orthodoxy to be Jesus — the pre-existent son of God, and the Psalm is therefore considered to signify the “begetting” of the Word — of God the Son — by God the Father.

Let’s examine its various elements, taken from the lines of Psalm 44:

At the top we see Gospod’ Savaof —  “Lord Sabaoth,” who is God the Father; and below him is the Holy Spirit descending in the form of a dove.

At upper left, we see King David — called a prophet in Eastern Orthodoxy — writing his Psalm:
…глагóлю áзъ дѣлá моя́ Царéви: язы́къ мóй трóсть кни́жника скоропи́сца.
I declare my works to the king: my tongue is the pen of a quick writer.

Seated on the throne in the center of the image is a crowned figure — this is Jesus as the Word uttered by the Father.  He holds a scepter in his hand:

That is taken from verse 7:
Престóлъ твóй, Бóже, въ вѣ́къ вѣ́ка: жéзлъ прáвости жéзлъ цáр­ст­вiя тво­егó.
Your throne, O God, is for ever and ever: the scepter of your kingdom is a scepter of righteousness.

The scroll he holds bears a part of verse 3 of the Psalm:
…сегó рáди благослови́ тя Бóгъ во вѣ́къ.
“...therefore God has blessed you forever.

At his knees is a quiver of arrows at left, and a bow at right, taken from verse 6:
“Стрѣ́лы твоя́ изощрéны, си́льне…”
Your arrows are sharpened, Mighty One… ”

At his feet are fallen his conquered enemies, as in the second part of verse 6:
…лю́дiе подъ тобóю падýтъ въ сéрдцы врáгъ Царéвыхъ.
the nations shall fall under you; they are in the heart of the king’s enemies.

The angel at right pours out the oil of anointing upon the head of the Word, as in verse 8:
Возлюби́лъ еси́ прáвду и воз­ненави́дѣлъ еси́ беззакóнiе: сегó рáди помáза тя́, Бóже, Бóгъ твóй елéемъ рáдости пáче при­­чáст­никъ тво­и́хъ.
You have loved righteousness, and hated iniquity: therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your fellows.

At left is a Queen (Mary) as in verse 9:
…предстá цари́ца одеснýю тебé, въ ри́захъ позлащéн­ныхъ одѣ́яна преиспещрéна.
“…the queen stood on your right hand, clothed in robes worked with gold, and arrayed in various colors.”

At right is a church, with people in the doorway, taken from verse 16:
…при­­ведýт­ся въ весéлiи и рáдованiи, введýт­ся въ хрáмъ Царéвъ.
They shall be brought with gladness and exultation: they shall be led into the king’s temple.

In front of the church are two crowned figures.  That at left is John the Forerunner, whose scroll bears the beginning of verse 18 of the Psalm:
сегó рáди лю́дiе исповѣ́дят­ся тебѣ́ въ вѣ́къ и во вѣ́къ вѣ́ка.
“…therefore shall the nations give thanks to you forever, and forever and ever.”

And at right King Solomon, whose scroll bears part of verse 8 of the Psalm:
сегó рáди помáза тя́, Бóже, Бóгъ твóй елéемъ рáдости пáче при­­чáст­никъ тво­и́хъ.
“...therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your fellows.”  You will recall that Solomon is the traditional author of the Book of Proverbs, which speaks of Wisdom (Sophia), understood in icons to be Jesus, as in Proverbs 9:1: “ Wisdom has built her house, she has hewn out her seven pillars.

The fellow with the red cap at far left is the Prophet Daniel, holding a scroll bearing part of verse 5 of the Psalm:
…и́стины рáди и крóтости и прáвды: и настáвитъ тя́ ди́вно десни́ца твоя́.
“…because of truth and meekness and righteousness; and your right hand shall guide you wonderfully.” Daniel is considered to have foretold the coming kingdom of Jesus, as in Daniel 2:44:
And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.

Just for reference, here is all of Psalm 44 (45 in the KJV) in Church Slavic:

  • 1.  Въ конéцъ, о измѣня́емыхъ сынóмъ Корéовымъ въ рáзумъ, пѣ́снь о воз­лю́блен­нѣмъ.
  • 2.  Отры́гну сéрдце моé слóво блáго, глагóлю áзъ дѣлá моя́ Царéви: язы́къ мóй трóсть кни́жника скоропи́сца.
  • 3.  Красéнъ добрóтою пáче сынóвъ человѣ́ческихъ, излiя́ся благодáть во устнáхъ тво­и́хъ: сегó рáди благослови́ тя Бóгъ во вѣ́къ.
  • 4.  Препоя́ши мéчь твóй по бедрѣ́ тво­éй, си́льне,
  • 5.   красотóю тво­éю и добрóтою тво­éю: и наляцы́, и успѣвáй, и цáр­ст­вуй и́стины рáди и крóтости и прáвды: и настáвитъ тя́ ди́вно десни́ца твоя́.
  • 6.  Стрѣ́лы твоя́ изощрéны, си́льне: лю́дiе подъ тобóю падýтъ въ сéрдцы врáгъ Царéвыхъ.
  • 7.  Престóлъ твóй, Бóже, въ вѣ́къ вѣ́ка: жéзлъ прáвости жéзлъ цáр­ст­вiя тво­егó.
  • 8.  Возлюби́лъ еси́ прáвду и воз­ненави́дѣлъ еси́ беззакóнiе: сегó рáди помáза тя́, Бóже, Бóгъ твóй елéемъ рáдости пáче при­­чáст­никъ тво­и́хъ.
  • 9.  Сми́рна и стáкти и касíа от­ ри́зъ тво­и́хъ, от­ тя́жестей слонóвыхъ {от­ хрáмовъ слонóвыхъ}, изъ ни́хже воз­весели́ша тя́.
  • 10.  Дщéри царéй въ чéсти тво­éй: предстá цари́ца одеснýю тебé, въ ри́захъ позлащéн­ныхъ одѣ́яна преиспещрéна.
  • 11. Слы́ши, дщи́, и ви́ждь, и при­­клони́ ýхо твоé, и забýди лю́ди твоя́ и дóмъ отцá тво­егó:
  • 12.  и воз­желáетъ Цáрь добрóты тво­ея́, занé тóй éсть Госпóдь твóй, и поклони́шися емý,
  • 13.  и дщи́ ти́рова съ дáры: лицý тво­емý помóлят­ся богáтiи лю́дстiи.
  • 14.  Вся́ слáва дщéре Царéвы внýтрь: ря́сны златы́ми одѣ́яна и преиспещрéна.
  • 15.  Приведýт­ся Царю́ дѣ́вы вслѣ́дъ ея́, и́скрен­нiя ея́ при­­ведýт­ся тебѣ́:
  • 16. при­­ведýт­ся въ весéлiи и рáдованiи, введýт­ся въ хрáмъ Царéвъ.
  • 17.  Вмѣ́сто отéцъ тво­и́хъ бы́ша сы́нове тво­и́: постáвиши я́ кня́зи по всéй земли́.
  • 18.  Помянý и́мя твоé во вся́комъ рóдѣ и рóдѣ: сегó рáди лю́дiе исповѣ́дят­ся тебѣ́ въ вѣ́къ и во вѣ́къ вѣ́ка.