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.