Nativity icon

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[[Image:Nativity htm.jpg|frame|right|[[Nativity]] of Christ Icon]]
 
[[Image:Nativity htm.jpg|frame|right|[[Nativity]] of Christ Icon]]
The traditional '''[[icon]]''' style of the '''[[Nativity|Nativity of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ]]''' is from the 15th century, and attributed to [[Andrei Rublev|Rublev]]. It depicts the Creator of the Universe entering history as a newborn babe.  The icon of the Nativity also shows us the effect of this event on the natural life of the world.  
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The traditional '''[[icon]]''' style of the '''[[Nativity|Nativity of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ]]''' is from the 15th century and attributed to Saint [[Andrei Rublev]].{{fact}} It depicts the Creator of the universe entering history as a newborn babe.  The icon of the Nativity also shows the effect of this event on the natural life of the world.  
  
 
==Design==
 
==Design==
The background is an inhospitable world, the world since our expulsion from [[Paradise]].  In the center of the icon are [[Theotokos|Mary]], as the central figure depicted disproportionately large, resting at a cave, and [[Jesus]] as a baby in a manger wrapped in swaddling clothes.  Around the icon is much that deals with the [[Incarnation]] of Christ, explained below.  
+
The background is an inhospitable world, the world since the expulsion from [[Paradise]].  In the center of the icon are [[Theotokos|Mary]], the central and disproportionately large figure, resting in a cave, and [[Jesus]] as a baby in a manger wrapped in swaddling clothes.  Around the icon is much that deals with the [[Incarnation]] of Christ, explained below.  
  
 
==Theology==
 
==Theology==
The icon has much symbolism.  The little helpless figure in swaddling clothes represents the complete submission of Christ in the physical conditions governing the human race.  
+
The icon has much symbolism.  The helpless figure in swaddling clothes represents the complete submission of Christ to the physical conditions governing the human race.  
  
The earth provides him with a cave.  The animals watch him in silent wonder and we humans offer him one of us, the Virgin Mother.  His manger is like a casket and his swaddling clothes are very much like the grave clothes: he was born to die! 
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The earth provides Him with a cave.  The animals watch Him in silent wonder and humanity offer him one of its own, the Virgin Mother.  The manger is like a casket and His swaddling clothes are very much like the grave clothes.
  
 
===Star===
 
===Star===
The sky salutes him with a star, the light of wisdom.  This is a sign that Christ came for everyone: ''"For by it, those who worshipped the stars, were taught by a star to adore Thee, the Sun of Righteousness, and to know Thee, the Orient on high"'' (from the [[troparion]] of Christmas). Some icons have three rays from the star, representing the Holy [[Trinity]].  
+
The sky salutes Him with a star, the light of wisdom.  This is a sign that Christ came for everyone: "For by it, those who worshiped the stars, were taught by a star to adore Thee, the Sun of Righteousness, and to know Thee, the Orient on high" (from the [[troparion]] of Christmas). Some icons have three rays from the star, representing the Holy [[Trinity]].  
  
The Magi and the shepherds bring their gifts, also a sign that Christ came for everyone.
+
The [[Magi]] and the shepherds bring their gifts, also a sign that Christ came for everyone.
  
The women on the bottom right are midwives.  This indicates that Jesus was born in the normal way and would have needed washing, as a regular human baby would.  
+
The women on the bottom right are midwives.  This indicates that Jesus was born in the normal way and would have needed washing, as a regular human baby would.
  
===Old Testament prophecy===
+
===[[Old Testament]] prophecy===
Below the center are a tree, an ox, and an ass.  The tree is the "Jesse Tree" from [[prophecy]], which says that a shoot will sprout from the stump of Jesse (the father of [[King David]]) ''"A shoot shall sprout from the stump (tree) of Jesse and from his roots a bud shall blossom. The spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him"'' ([[Book of Isaiah|Isaiah]] 11:1-2).   The ox and the ass are also from an Old Testament prophecy. Sometimes they are shown near the Christ child, providing warmth from their breath ''"The ox knows his owner, and the donkey his master’s crib"'' (Isaiah 1:3).  
+
Below the center are a tree, an ox, and an ass.  The tree is the "Jesse Tree" from [[prophecy]], which says that a shoot will sprout from the stump of Jesse (the father of King [[David]]): "A shoot shall sprout from the stump (tree) of Jesse and from his roots a bud shall blossom. The spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him" ([[Book of Isaiah|Isaiah]] 11:1-2). The ox and the ass are also from an Old Testament prophecy: "The ox knows his owner, and the donkey his master's crib" (Isaiah 1:3). Sometimes they are shown near the Christ child, providing warmth from their breath.
  
 
===Joseph===
 
===Joseph===
The [[Righteous]] [[Joseph the Betrothed|Joseph]] is depicted away from Jesus and the Theotokos, off to the bottom left.  This is because he was not involved in the [[miracle]] of the Incarnation of the Son of God, but he was the protector of Mary and Jesus.  The old man speaking to him represents the devil bringing new doubts to Joseph.  The devil suggests that if the infant were truly divine he would not have been born in the human way.  (This argument, assuming different forms, keeps on reappearing through the whole history of the Church. It is the basis of many [[heresy|heresies]]. In the person of Joseph, the icon discloses not only his personal drama, but the drama of all mankind, the difficulty of accepting that which is beyond reason, the Incarnation of God.)     
+
The [[Righteous]] [[Joseph the Betrothed|Joseph]] is depicted away from Jesus and the Theotokos, off to the bottom left.  This is because he was not involved in the [[miracle]] of the Incarnation of the Son of God, but he was the protector of Mary and Jesus.  The old man speaking to him represents the devil bringing new doubts to Joseph.  The devil suggests that if the infant were truly divine He would not have been born in the human way.  (This argument, assuming different forms, keeps on reappearing through the whole history of the Church. It is the basis of many [[heresy|heresies]].) In the person of Joseph, the icon discloses not only his personal drama, but the drama of all mankind, the difficulty of accepting that which is beyond reason, the Incarnation of God.    
  
 
===Mary===
 
===Mary===
Mary in the center, from her reclining position, looks at Joseph as if trying to overcome his doubts and temptations.  She is not the most important figure in the icon, but the most dominant. Sometime she is depicted kneeling, but still concerned.
+
Mary in the center, from her reclining position, looks at Joseph as if trying to overcome his doubts and temptations.  She is not the most important figure in the icon, but the most dominant. Sometime she is depicted kneeling, still concerned.
  
 
===Angels===
 
===Angels===
The [[angels]] are glorifying God, tending to the action, and ministering:  announcing the Good News to the shepherds, or singing. To the right, a young shepherd sits, wearing a wreath and playing his flute, showing the joy of the Good News.
+
The [[angels]] are glorifying God, tending to the action, and ministering:  announcing the [[Gospel|Good News]] to the shepherds, or singing. To the right, a young shepherd sits, wearing a wreath and playing his flute, showing the joy of the Good News.
 +
 
 +
==External links==
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*[http://goarch.org/special/advent/listen_learn_share/nativity/index_html Feast of the Nativity of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ: Icon of the Nativity] ([[GOARCH]])
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*[http://www.antiochian.org/icons-explained-nativity The Nativity Icon Explained] ([[AOCA]])
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*[http://iconreader.wordpress.com/2010/12/24/the-nativity-icon/ The Nativity Icon]
  
 
[[Category:About Icons]]
 
[[Category:About Icons]]
 
[[Category:Feasts]]
 
[[Category:Feasts]]
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[[fr:Icône de la Nativité]]

Latest revision as of 12:38, December 21, 2012

Nativity of Christ Icon

The traditional icon style of the Nativity of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is from the 15th century and attributed to Saint Andrei Rublev.citation needed It depicts the Creator of the universe entering history as a newborn babe. The icon of the Nativity also shows the effect of this event on the natural life of the world.

Contents

Design

The background is an inhospitable world, the world since the expulsion from Paradise. In the center of the icon are Mary, the central and disproportionately large figure, resting in a cave, and Jesus as a baby in a manger wrapped in swaddling clothes. Around the icon is much that deals with the Incarnation of Christ, explained below.

Theology

The icon has much symbolism. The helpless figure in swaddling clothes represents the complete submission of Christ to the physical conditions governing the human race.

The earth provides Him with a cave. The animals watch Him in silent wonder and humanity offer him one of its own, the Virgin Mother. The manger is like a casket and His swaddling clothes are very much like the grave clothes.

Star

The sky salutes Him with a star, the light of wisdom. This is a sign that Christ came for everyone: "For by it, those who worshiped the stars, were taught by a star to adore Thee, the Sun of Righteousness, and to know Thee, the Orient on high" (from the troparion of Christmas). Some icons have three rays from the star, representing the Holy Trinity.

The Magi and the shepherds bring their gifts, also a sign that Christ came for everyone.

The women on the bottom right are midwives. This indicates that Jesus was born in the normal way and would have needed washing, as a regular human baby would.

Old Testament prophecy

Below the center are a tree, an ox, and an ass. The tree is the "Jesse Tree" from prophecy, which says that a shoot will sprout from the stump of Jesse (the father of King David): "A shoot shall sprout from the stump (tree) of Jesse and from his roots a bud shall blossom. The spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him" (Isaiah 11:1-2). The ox and the ass are also from an Old Testament prophecy: "The ox knows his owner, and the donkey his master's crib" (Isaiah 1:3). Sometimes they are shown near the Christ child, providing warmth from their breath.

Joseph

The Righteous Joseph is depicted away from Jesus and the Theotokos, off to the bottom left. This is because he was not involved in the miracle of the Incarnation of the Son of God, but he was the protector of Mary and Jesus. The old man speaking to him represents the devil bringing new doubts to Joseph. The devil suggests that if the infant were truly divine He would not have been born in the human way. (This argument, assuming different forms, keeps on reappearing through the whole history of the Church. It is the basis of many heresies.) In the person of Joseph, the icon discloses not only his personal drama, but the drama of all mankind, the difficulty of accepting that which is beyond reason, the Incarnation of God.

Mary

Mary in the center, from her reclining position, looks at Joseph as if trying to overcome his doubts and temptations. She is not the most important figure in the icon, but the most dominant. Sometime she is depicted kneeling, still concerned.

Angels

The angels are glorifying God, tending to the action, and ministering: announcing the Good News to the shepherds, or singing. To the right, a young shepherd sits, wearing a wreath and playing his flute, showing the joy of the Good News.

External links

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