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    The couple Saints Joachim and Anna were childless in Israel at a time when this was considered a curse, and an abandonment of a blessing from God towards their family and Israel.  They had lived generous and righteous lives before God and men, and yet even with prayers, had not had their hearts desire for children be fulfilled even after fifty years of marriage.  Then God sent the great Archangel Gabriel to both St. Anna and St. Joachim separately to announce to them that St. Anna indeed would conceive and bear a most special child, who would be a blessing to all mankind.

    In due time this announcement was fulfilled and the Most Holy Virgin Mary Theotokos was born to St. Anna, who is pictured just after having given birth to her child.  The Virgin is shown in a small crib while St. Anna rests from her labors, and the midwife and attendants present look on.  In response to their great joy and blessing from God, the grateful St. Anna promises that her child will be dedicated to God, and in fulfillment of that promise will bring her only child at the tender age of three to the Temple to live her life there from then on.  This is a great mother’s love.

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    This 16th century icon is a part of a celebrated set of festal icons showing important events in the life of Jesus plus a few other renowned feasts of the year.  It was painted by George the Cretan for the Holy Monastery of Dionysiou on Mount Athos, and together they are known to be great examples of Post-Byzantine Greek iconographic art.  This icon is the first of that set of icons.

    The Nativity of the Virgin Mary came about in a wonderful manner.  After SS Joachim and Anna had been married for fifty years without having a child, which was a source of great shame in Israel at that time, they often prayed to God to give them this great blessing in their life and take away this shame.  The great Archangel Gabriel appeared to both St. Anna and to St. Joachim separately advising them that they would have a most special child  “a daughter most blessed....through whom will come the salvation of the world.”    Shortly afterwards, St. Anna did conceive the Blessed Virgin Mary.  Because of their vows to God regarding this child, they brought her to the Temple as  a gift to God when she was only three, where she remained until she was 14, fed by an angel.

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    One of the famous 16th century Stavronikita Festal set of icons, this icon depicts Holy Pentecost, fifty days after Christ’s  Resurrection, when He sent the Holy Spirit in the form of flames of fire upon the Disciples again gathered in the upper room in Jeru-salem.  The center place is empty, signifying that Christ is always the leader and head of the Church.  By anticipation, St. Paul is seen here set among the Disciples.  Below is a figure of the kings of this world still in darkness, while the Disciples are illumined above.  We receive this grace too, through the Apostles, at our chrismation.

    The monk Theophanes the Cretan painted this set of icons on the iconostasis, or icon screen which separates the Bema, or sacred Altar, from the body of the Church, or Nave, where the Faithful stand for Divine Liturgy and other liturgical services.  The set shows many of the most important events in the life of Jesus and the Church in its early and formative stage.  This icon is the 14th in that set.  Theophanes’ icons are considered masterpieces of iconographic art, still adorn the church at Stavronikita Monastery on Mount Athos, and show marvelous Cretan post-Byzantine form.

  • Handcrafted by the nuns of Agia Skepi Greek Orthodox Monastery in White Haven, PA.
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    This 16th century icon is a part of a celebrated set of festal icons showing important events in the life of Jesus plus a few other renowned feasts of the year.  It was painted by George the Cretan for the Holy Monastery of Dionysiou on Mount Athos, and together they are known to be great examples of Post-Byzantine Greek iconographic art.  This icon is the fifth of that set of icons.

    The Transfiguration is considered a very important feast in Eastern Orthodox Christianity because it is the first true revelation of the brightness of the Light of Christ in this world to His Apostles and to us through them.  The Disciples are blinded by this great Light and fall down as Christ becomes much more than just a miracle working prophet or man, but the Living God before the Ages Whose Glory has been hidden from the Apostles behind the veil of His humanity.   On one side of the icon, the Apostles are led up the mountain, and on the other side they are led down, because time is simultaneous in true iconographic art, echoing Eternity entirely present at once.  The holy Prophets Moses and Elias (or Elijah) appear also to affirm that this is truly the God that they saw before.

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    Nativity of Christ Icon. This icon contains the central icon of the Nativity (Virgin and Child) with surrounding scenes of the events of the Nativity. 8 3/4"x7 1/4." Made In Russia.
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    This 16th century icon is a part of a celebrated set of festal icons showing important events in the life of Jesus plus a few other renowned feasts of the year.  It was painted by George the Cretan for the Holy Monastery of Dionysiou on Mount Athos, and together they are known to be great examples of Post-Byzantine Greek iconographic art.  This icon is the third of that set of icons.

    The Presentation of Christ into the Temple is celebrated 40 days after His Birth.   Drawn by Divine inspiration into the Temple, the Righteous Symeon, the God-Receiver, takes the Lord into his arms and asked to be released from the cares of his very long life “for mine eyes have seen Thy salvation...a light of revelation for the Gentiles, and the glory of Thy people Israel”  (Luke 2: 30, 32).  The Righteous Prophetess Anna has also come to behold Christ, while St. Joseph has brought two turtle doves as an offering in accordance with the prescriptions of the Law for the Virgin Mary’s first-born son.  The Theotokos has her hands raised in prayer and supplication to her Son, Who although now appearing as an Infant, is also the Infinite and Everlasting God Himself.

    Approximately 10 3/4" x 13 1/2"

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    This mid-14th c. icon was done in a.d. 1365 in the time of Archbishop Gregory Devolski at Ochrid, Macedonia.  The small figure of the Virgin Mary can be seen in the midst of other virgins who accompanied her to the Temple to fulfill the vow of her parents SS Joachim and Anna to dedicate this most precious gift back to the service of the Lord when she was just three years old.  The priest Zacharias, later the father of the John the Baptist, receives this pure flower of humanity and brings her in Divine inspiration into the Holy of Holies of the Temple where only the High Priest himself is supposed to go once a year, and not without blood.

    Harmoniously, human wills are united with the Divine Will and with the wondrous plan for Mankind for the preparation of the most pure Virgin Mary to receive nearly a dozen years later the Incarnate God in her womb, the new tabernacle and throne of God on earth.   Each face here is peaceful and loving as all unite in love to do God’s sweet Will on earth for the impending Mystery.  Above we see here an angel later feeding the Virgin in the Temple, as icons often show simultaneous spiritual time.

    Sizes are approximate

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    This late 16th century icon shows the Virgin Mary bringing her Divine Son into the Temple to dedicate Him to the Lord on the 40th day after His Birth as was written in the Law.  She gives Him into the arms of the Prophet Symeon the God-Receiver, who has come into the Temple by inspiration from the Holy Spirit.   On that day God will fulfill the promise made to St. Symeon that he will see the Lord of the Prophecy of the birth of Immanuel, God-with-us, and so let him depart in peace.  The beautiful hymn in Luke 2:29-32 is the response of St. Symeon to holding Jesus Christ in his arms and blessing God Who had come to him.

    The Prophetess Anna is also in the Temple by inspiration to see the Divine Child.  St. Joseph, the Betrothed to the Virgin Mary, but not married to her as a witness that this Child is not his, is there, too, and holds two turtledoves as an offering to the priest as was written to fulfill the Law on a child’s dedication in the Temple.  This is the junction between the prophecies of the Old Testament and their fulfillment in the New, for Christ is that fulfillment.  Let us praise Christ, too, and bless God like St. Symeon.

    Approximately 4 1/4" x 5 1/2"

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    Approximately 10 1/4" x 8 3/4"
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    Monk Michael of Athos painted this icon in 1982.  The Star that leads the Three Holy Kings, as seen to the left of the Virgin, illuminates where the young Child was, while above the Kings the angels look with wonder.  To the right, another angel is instructing a shepherd to come and see this most blessed moment in all of history: God is being born as a human being with all of our frailties except sin.

    Inside the rocks is the cave where Christ was born, still visible beneath the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem even today.  The Lord is laid in a manger in the wall of the cave where animals had been sheltered in times past.  They, too, look on with wonder.  The Virgin is kneeling in adoration and love at this most special Son in Whose Image and Likeness we too were made.  St. Joseph is kneeling here as well and offering up his praise, while another shepherd sits with his pipe in his hand and his sheep laying down before the Cave.  If seen clearly, the center of Time, which looked before this event in anticipation, and which looks afterwards in respect, occurs just at this moment of God’s Incarnation.

    Sizes are approximate

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    Shimmering with bright reds, greens, and golds, this icon is the work of the master and most famous Russian iconographer, St. Andrei Rublev.  Each iconographer paints images on receptive medium to accept and maintain the divine forms revealed to us from the Blessed Kingdom Which can know no end.  The Creative Will of God opens by this revelation a glimpse into Eternal verities, and by this vision of form, changes us as we behold such timeless and yet interactive beauty, giving gladness from on high when our hearts are turned to Him in love.

    In a similar way, the interior canvas of the iconographer can be the medium that God works His Image and Likeness into active and vibrant form, for truly this art is not just earthly, but Heavenly and transfigurative.  Some mediums are more receptive than others, and here we see the remarkable spirituality and transcendence of St. Andrei Rublev’s icons which mark them out from even other great icons.  We see the man himself, too, as a saint filled with holiness expressing such Godliness in his figures of God and  human bodies.  O Holy Father St. Andrei, pray to God for us!!

    Sizes are approximate

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    This icon of the Mother of God has a wonderful story that explains the commemoration of the event that inspired it and its vivid depiction here, and shows how God is merciful and compassionate towards all men. Once a soldier named Leo assisted a blind man who had lost his way. While looking for water for him, he heard a voice from an unseen person say “Emperor Leo, take water and give it to the thirsty man; then take some of the slime by it and put it on his eyes.” To the soldier Leo’s surprise, a nearby spring gushed out before him. When he did as the voice commanded him, the blind man received his sight. This soldier later became the Christian East Roman or Byzantine Emperor Leo I (457-473). When Leo became the Emperor, he erected a church in honor of the Mother of God at this Life-Giving Spring near the “Golden Gates” in Constantinople where the spring had come up. Later the church was destroyed by the Turks, but in 1835 a new church was built at the same site and consecrated by the Ecumenical Patriarch Constantine. This spring still flows for the salvation and healing of all who come there to the Virgin’s Son.
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