Smolensk Mother of God, St. Nicholas, St. Paraskeva and St. Blaise, handmade Russian icon, Moscow. Early 18th Century.
The Icon displays Smolensk Mother of God, St. Nicholas, St. Paraskeva and St. Blaise.
Handmade Russian icon, Moscow. Early 18th C. (1700-1720)
The icon is in very good condition. It is made in four different levels,
First wood, second canvas, third gold leaf and fourth the painting level.
Size: 30.5x25 cm, 12x9.8 inch.
A. Smolensk Mother of God
is an iconographic depiction of the Theotokos (Virgin Mary) holding the Child Jesus at her side while pointing to Him as the source of salvation for humankind. The Virgin's head usually inclines towards the Child, who raises his hand in a blessing gesture. In the Western Church, this type of icon is sometimes called Our Lady of the Way.
B. St. Paraskeva
St Paraskevi was born in Rome about 140 AD of Greek Christian parents. Her father, Agathon was rich and her mother, Politia, had many attributes, the greatest of which was her charitability. Agathon and Politia had been married for many years but they were childless. They prayed to God to bless them with a child which they would raise in a truly Christian atmosphere. Their prayers were answered with the birth of a girl and because she was born on the sixth day of the week, they named her Paraskevi, the Greek word for Friday. When she was 20 years old, both her parents died. Filled with the spirit of Christ and Christian ideals, she sold all her worldly goods and dispersed most of her money among the poor. The remainder was contributed to a community treasury which supported a home for young virgins and widows who had dedicated their lives to the teachings of Christianity. These women had, however, strayed far from the word of the Gospel and, therefore, Paraskevi remained in this home for many years and taught them the true meaning of Christianity.
C. St. Blaise
From being a healer of bodily ailments, Saint Blaise became a physician of souls, then retired for a time to a cavern where he remained in prayer. As bishop of Sebastea, Blaise instructed his people as much by his example as by his words, and the great virtues and sanctity of the servant of God were attested by many miracles. From all parts, the people came flocking to him for the cure of bodily and spiritual ills. He is said to have healed animals (who came to the saint on their own for his assistance) and to have been assisted by animals. In316, the governor of Cappadocia and Lesser Armenia Agricolaus began a persecution by order of the Emperor Licinius and Saint Blaise was seized. After his interrogation and a severe scourging, he was hurried off to prison, and subsequently beheaded.
Very little is known about the historical Saint Nicholas. The earliest accounts of his life were written centuries after his death and contain many legendary elaborations. He is said to have been born in the Greek seaport of Patara, Lycia in Asia Minor to wealthy Christian parents. In one of the earliest attested and most famous incidents from his life, he is said to have rescued three girls from being forced into prostitution by dropping a sack of gold coins through the window of their house each night for three nights so their father could pay a dowry for each of them. Other early stories tell of him calming a storm at sea, saving three innocent soldiers from wrongful execution, and chopping down a tree possessed by a demon. In his youth, he is said to have made a pilgrimage to Egypt and the Palestine area. Shortly after his return, he became Bishop of Myra. He was later cast into prison during the persecution of Diocletian but was released after the accession of Constantine. An early list makes him an attendee at the First Council of Nicaea in 325, but he is never mentioned in any writings by people who were actually at the council. Late, unsubstantiated legends claim that he was temporarily defrocked and imprisoned during the Council for slapping the heretic, Arius. Another famous late legend tells how he resurrected three children, who had been murdered and pickled in brine by a butcher planning to sell them as pork during a famine.
Fewer than 200 years after Nicholas's death, the St. Nicholas Church was built in Myra under the orders of Theodosius II over the site of the church, where he had served as a bishop and Nicholas's remains were moved to a sarcophagus in that church. In 1087, while the Greek Christian inhabitants of the region were subjugated by the newly arrived Muslim Seljuk Turks, and soon after their church was declared to be in schism by the Catholic church, a group of merchants from the Italian city of Bari removed the major bones of Nicholas's skeleton from his sarcophagus in the church without authorization and brought them to their hometown, where they are now enshrined in the Basilica di San Nicola. The remaining bone fragments from the sarcophagus were later removed by Venetian sailors and taken to Venice during the First Crusade. His relics in Bari are said to exude a miraculous watery substance known as "manna" or "myrrh", which some members of the faithful regard as possessing supernatural powers.