The two icons on the sanctuary, soon after the delivery.
ICON OF THE ANNUNCIATION
Icon inspired by the icon of the Annunciation from the iconostasis of the Assumption Cathedral of the Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery, 1497.
The Annunciation, also called Annunciation to the Blessed Virgin Mary or Annunciation of the Lord is the announcement by the angel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary that she would conceive a son by the power of the Holy Spirit to be called Jesus (Luke 1:26–38). The angel’s pronouncement is met with Mary’s willing consent :“Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word”, and thus precipitates the Incarnation of Christ and his redemption of the world. The instant of the Annunciation indicates the taking over of the new alliance, the passage from law to grace.
This icon presents the joy about the announcement of the coming of Christ.
The Archangel has his feet spread apart showing his joy and urgency of the good news he is bringing. In his left hand is a staff to symbolize that he is a messenger. His right hand is extended in blessing toward Mary as he delivers the message and announces the blessing being bestowed upon her by God. The Archangel Gabriel sweeps in from the left in a gesture of speaking. The Gospel text is: “Hail, you that are highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed are you among women” (Luke 1: 28). His cloak takes on shades tending to blue when illuminated by divine light.
On the right side of the icon the Virgin Mary sits on an elevated seat, indicating that as the Mother of God she is greater in honour than the cherubim, and beyond compare more glorious than the seraphim, who without corruption gave birth to God the Word.
In her left hand she holds a spindle of scarlet yarn which depicts the task she was assigned of preparing the purple and scarlet material to be used in making the veil for the Temple in Jerusalem. The spindle of purple that Mary holds reminds us that the flesh of Emmanuel is woven into her womb, so that the Virgin becomes the abode of Divine Wisdom.
At the top of the icon the segment of a circle represents the divine realm, from which three rays emerge. This demonstrates the action of the Holy Spirit coming upon her. This icon marks the crowning of our salvation and the revelation of the mystery before all ages. For the Son of God becomes the son of the Virgin, and Gabriel proclaims to the ever-virgin Mary:
“Hail, O full of grace, the Lord is with you. Today is the beginning of our salvation, The revelation of the eternal mystery! The Son of God becomes the Son of the Virgin as Gabriel announces the coming of Grace. Together with him let us cry to the Theotokos: Rejoice, O Full of Grace, The Lord is with You! “ Troparion for the Feast.
The Annunciation is celebrated on March 25 .
This date was selected by the Church Fathers to be exactly nine months ahead of the Nativity of Our Lord, indicating that Christ was conceived in perfection at that time “of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary,”
ICON OF ARCHANGEL MICHAEL
Cm 124 x 75, solid wood, gesso, 24 K gold leaf, egg yolk tempera, 2021.
The Holy Archangel Michael is one of the most celebrated of the Angels; he is called the Archistrategos, or chief commander, of all the bodiless powers. According to Holy Scripture and Tradition, he has interceded for humanity multiple times and continues to serve as the Defender of the Faith. The name Michael means “like unto God” or “Who is like unto God?”
This icon represents the Archangel Michael in full length front figure, wearing the most formal and ceremonial type of imperial Byzantine costume, worn only by the Imperial family and a few of the most senior officials on Easter Sunday.
In this way the icon depicts Archangel Michael as a servant of the heavenly Court of God rather than a military commander, following one type from the millennial tradition of Iconography.
His richly decorated robes, studded with jewels, are made of elaborately embroidered fabrics that resemble the formal dress of Byzantine courtiers.
Instead of his usual lance, the Archangel holds a ceremonial staff and a round mirror. The mirror is a means of communication with Christ, who is represented in the mirror through the Cross and the inscription ΙC ΧC. The fluttering ribbons close to Saint Michael’s ears are made to receive God’s will. The staff is the symbol of royal and priestly dignity.
Michael wears a dark red dalmatic on the top of a white tunic, with a long, blue, precious cloth called loros and a red mantle called himation.
Each colour of the clothes has a theological meaning in Iconography: in Graeco-Roman times, purple (dark red) was reserved for the royal family, and it is worn by Saints because they are close to the King of Heaven. White represents purity, orange is the colour worn by the Emmanuel and red is often used to represent courage, ardent faith and it is the main colour of Christ. The loros and other elements are studded with blue and red jewels, pearls and embroidered in gold. In other icon types of Michael is represented either as the Commander of the Heavenly hosts holding a sword in one hand and in the other either a shield, a branch, or a spear.
In eastern tradition icons of Archangels Michael and Gabriel are usually located close to the icons of the Mother of God and Saint John the Baptist, that are next to the icon of Jesus Christ.
Catholic tradition calls Michael, Gabriel and Raphael archangels. The word archangel comes from the Greek words arche (prince) and angelos (messenger). The feast of these angels is celebrated on September 29. Traditionally, an Angelic Hierarchy is believed to exist, consisting of nine choirs. These include the Seraphim, Cherubim, Thrones, Dominions, Powers, Virtues, Principalities, Archangels and Angels.
Within the hierarchy of the angels, at the highest level, St. Michael is an angel of supreme power and the leader of God’s army. This might mean that St. Michael now occupies the position once held by Lucifer, rising from his post of Archangel.
Angel means messenger. In ancient Greek ἄγγελος (from ἀγγέλλω “announcement”) had the generic meaning of “messenger”; but then, due to the use made of it by the Greek translators of the Bible to render the Hebrew word mal’ākh “messenger or minister”, he thus acquired also the specifically religious sense of being superhuman, intermediary between heaven and the earth, between God and man, which God uses to proclaim to men and to have his will done on earth.
The feast day of the archangels Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael is September 29.