Skip to comments.Unexpected Joy Icon of the Mother of God (Cath-Orth caucus)
Posted on 11/06/2009 7:13:44 PM PST by annalex
Troparion to the icon of the Mother of God "Unexpected Joy", voice 4
Today the faithful people trumph in spirit as we give glory the zealous Defender of the Christian race, and as we run to her all-holy image we plead: o most-merciful Ruler Mother of God, give us the unexpected joy as we are burdened with many a sin and many a sorrow, and deliver us from all evil as we pray to Your Son Christ our God to save our souls.
Not my favorite style, but an amazing icon nevertheless.
If you have different executions of this fascinating iconographic type, please post.
19th century Ural Mountains
This looks the oldest, not only because of its condition but also judging by the style. Still, no date given (Source).
I wonder if it exists outside of Russia. This is the image search string in Russian: "Нечаянная Радость".
This is where we all come in, as we all pray for things such that our desire to have them grieves God. We should, therefore, pray for wisdom before other things.
King Solomon had this to say:
7 Wherefore I wished, and understanding was given me: and I called upon God, and the spirit of wisdom came upon me: 8 And I preferred her before kingdoms and thrones, and esteemed riches nothing in comparison of her. 9 Neither did I compare unto her any precious stone: for all gold in comparison of her, is as a little sand, and silver in respect to her shall be counted as clay. 10 I loved her above health and beauty, and chose to have her instead of light: for her light cannot be put out.
11 Now all good things came to me together with her, and innumerable riches through her hands, 12 And I rejoiced in all these: for this wisdom went before me, and I knew not that she was the mother of them all. (Wisdom 7)
The composition of the icon is effective because it puts us the faithfull sinners in the icon yet praying to the icon within the icon. The "outer" icon therefore is the Church herself. That is reinforced by the architectural elements so lovingly executed in the icon I posted first.
The lampade in front is, of course, what we commonly see in front of icons, but its presence in the photograph adds yet another, out-of-the-outer dimension to the complexity of the composition. This helps us discover that any Mother of God icon is an embedded composition as Our Lady encircles and presents the Christ in her arms to us.
We might remember another metaphor for the Holy Church in the Ladder of Divine Ascent icon, where the progress of the sinner is up to heaven. Here, thanks to the embedded nature of the composition, the progress in inward and toward the Divine Child.
"This sinner had the habit of praying each day to the Blessed Virgin, often repeating the Archangels greeting: Rejoice, O Virgin full of grace! Once, before routinely going out to sin, he turned to the holy image and fearfully saw the Holy Virgin standing live with Her Divine Son in Her arms. The Infant had wounds on His hands and feet, and blood was flowing from a wound in His side, just as it had been on the cross. The sinner fell to his knees and cried out: O Mistress! Who did this?
You and other sinners. Over and over again you crucify My Son by your sins, just as the Jews had done, the Theotokos answered softly.
Have mercy upon me, tearfully cried out the sinner.
You call Me the Mother of mercy, yet you offend Me and bring Me sorrow by your deeds.
No, Mistress, the sinner cried out in fear. May my malice not overcome Thy indescribable kindness and mercy! Thou alone art the hope and safe haven of all sinners! Have mercy upon me, O benevolent Mother! Entreat Thy Son and my Creator on my behalf.
Seeing a soul being purified by repentance, the most blessed Mother began to entreat Her Son: My benevolent Son! For the sake of My love have mercy upon this sinner. But the Son replied to Her: Do not be angry, My Mother, if I do not obey Thee. I, too, entreated My Father to have this cup of suffering pass Me by.
Over and over the Mother of God entreated Her Son, reminding Him how She had nurtured Him at Her breast, how She had suffered at His cross. But the Lord would not bend down to mercy. Then the Mother of God arose, put Her Son down, and was ready to fall at His feet. What dost Thou wish to do, Mother?! cried out the Son. I shall remain, She replied, lying at Thy feet together with this sinner until Thou forgivest him his sins. Then the Son said: The law requires a son to venerate his mother, while justice demands that the giver of the law be himself obedient to the law. I am Thy Son, Thou art My Mother; I am obliged to do Thee homage by fulfilling Thy request. Let it be asThou wishest! His sins are now forgiven for Thy sake! And as a token of forgiveness, let him press his lips to My wounds."
The sinner arose, with trembling and joy kissed the most holy wounds of the Infant, and came to himself. When the vision ended, he felt within his heart both awe and joy. His soul exulted, streams of tears ran down his face. He kissed the icon, filled with gratitude for having found repentance and forgiveness, and prayed that he be granted the gift to always see his sins and repent of them. His life changed completely and remained God-pleasing to the end of his days."
The composition is certainly interesting since it is an icon within an icon. So far as I know, this is a distinctly Russian form of icon and not particularly uncommon. A modern example is this one of the Holy Royal Martyrs and Passionbearers:
The essence of all authentic mariology. Thank you for St. Dmitri's explanation.
That the sinner had a habit of praying to Our Lady discloses another aspect of this icon: that a prayer said in an imperfect disposition of soul still has a purifying effect on it.
Another example of that is Triumph of Orthodoxy type.
Of course! That's the one I couldn't think of yesterday!
Embedding an iconic image also shows special favor of the image, as that of Panagia shows a special relationship with the Royal Martyrs.
Here's another one with +Seraphim of Sarov praying to an icon of Panagia:
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