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    As a husband is to his wife so is Jesus Christ to His Church.  His Crucifixion is His marital vow and His mockery and beating His wedding feast.  The Bridegroom icon shows Christ stripped of His garments and clothed in a scarlet robe to mock Him.  He wears a crown of thorns, causing blood to flow from the wounds.  A reed is placed in His bound hands as a scepter.

    In Christ's halo are the Greek letters for "I AM", to remind us that Christ was the All-Powerful God who freely chose to experience pain and death.  For the first three days of Holy Week this icon is placed prominently in the Church to remind us of Christ's great love and great suffering.  Like the Five Wise and Five Foolish Virgins we await the Bridegroom's arrival and sing, "Behold, the Bridegroom, cometh at midnight.  And Blessed is the servant whom He shall find awake.  But He whom He shall find neglectful is verily unworthy.  Beware therefore my soul, less thou fallest into deep slumber and the door of the Kingdom be closed against thee and thou be delivered unto death.  But be thou wakeful crying, ‘Holy, Holy, Holy art Thou.’" (from the Bridegroom Matins)

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    A variant of the type of icon “Extreme Humility,” this Russian icon was made in the mid-19th century.  The Theotokos Mary standing outside Christ’s tomb is embracing her Son whose eyes are closed in death in the tomb with His Cross standing behind them on which is inscribed, “Jesus Christ, The King of Glory.”  The Virgin’s tender embrace hauntingly echoes icons of the Virgin of Tenderness (Eleusa) where the Divine Infant tenderly embraces her.  Here the Virgin supports her Son in death and so enters into the mystery of the sufferings and death of the Cross.  This Cross, which had been a symbol of dreaded anguish, is now our symbol of victory and love, but we, too, must embrace Him and it in our lives.

    This icon is named after a most moving and beautiful  hymn sung at Ode 9 near the end of the Matins or Orthros service for Christ’s burial and our lamentations on the Eve of Holy Saturday, and sung again the next day, “Do not lament Me, O Mother, seeing Me in the tomb; the Son conceived in the womb without seed, for I shall arise and be glorified with eternal glory as God.  I shall exalt all who magnify thee in faith and love.”

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    Here the Holy Apostles sit with Jesus Christ at His last  Passover meal, which initiates a great Mystery, the first Holy Communion as revealed by God to us.  St. John leans on His Master’s breast, while Judas reaches for the dish showing who would betray Christ later that same night.  The giving of His Body and His Blood to His Disciples before His Passion in Holy Communion brings the mystical and everlasting Kingdom into the life of the Apostles, who were the foundation here on earth of His Holy Church.  This is why the title of this icon and this event is not the Last Supper, which is already finished when the Mystery begins, but the Mystical Supper of Christ.

    Only Judas is shown in profile, as only he had a hidden side of darkness, not open and loving as the other Apostles, who are shown with both eyes visible, a common iconographic form.  We must remove through openness and love any hidden malice or selfishness from our own hearts to join them in preparing for this Mystical event.  The table is rounded to show that there is always room for every one of us to come and partake of Him.

    Sizes are approximate