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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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    Here Christ is depicted descending into Hades bearing the instruments of the Passion: the Cross, lance, and sponge.  His hands are as if bound but no rope is tying them together, demonstrating that He voluntarily chose to be fettered and willingly suffered for the salvation of all.  We see the bleeding wounds on His side and hands, for He has kept His wounds even in His Resurrection as a sign that His agony and suffering were real and remain as a pledge of His undying Love for each person, even to His Death on the Cross.  With His eyes closed He is truly dead to the world and all of its passionate needs during His descent in to Hades, yet inwardly beholding all things as the all-seeing God.

    When we think of God and the attributes that are His by nature--unconditional Love, complete omnipresence and omnipotence, Existence Itself without the boundaries of time and space, all-holiness, absolute compassion and empathy, Truth that is never swayed by partiality yet tempered by Divine Mercy, total understanding--each is astounding and hard to comprehend, but this icon’s “Extreme Humility” is perhaps the most close and dear to us.

    Sizes are approximate.

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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.”

    Sizes are approximate

  • F54

    Epitaphios

    $22.00