**Originally Listed At $250**
Eastern Europe, Russia, ca. 19th century CE. Skillfully delineated in egg tempera on wood a petite icon known as the Unexpected Joy icon of the Most Holy Theotokos - depicting a youth kneeling in prayer before an icon of the Mother of God. The story regarding the healing of the youth from a bodily affliction via prayer to this holy icon is recorded in the book of Saint Demetrius of Rostov, The Fleece of Prayer (Judges 6: 36-40). Size: 3.5" W x 4.5" H (8.9 cm x 11.4 cm)
According to the Orthodox Church of America website, "The sinful youth, who was nevertheless devoted to the Theotokos, was praying one day before the icon of the All-Pure Virgin before going out to commit a sin. Suddenly, he saw that wounds appeared on the Lord’s hands, feet, and side, and blood flowed from them. In horror he exclaimed, 'O Lady, who has done this?' The Mother of God replied, 'You and other sinners, because of your sins, crucify My Son anew.' Only then did he realize how great was the depth of his sinfulness. For a long time he prayed with tears to the All-Pure Mother of God and the Savior for mercy. Finally, he received the unexpected joy of the forgiveness of his sins." The “Unexpected Joy” icon is commemorated on January 25 and May 1.
This icon most likely was kept in someone’s home. According to Jeanne Marie Warzeski, scholar and curator of the North Carolina Museum of History's "Windows into Heaven" exhibition, "In the early Byzantine Empire, the home became the primary base for the development of icon veneration. Throughout the ensuing centuries, icons continued to receive honor in homes and churches. To this day, many Orthodox Christians create for prayer and meditation in their home a krasny ugol, or “beautiful corner,” where family icons are placed. Guests entering a house customarily honor the icons in the corner by crossing themselves before the objects. An oil lamp is set near the icons and is lit daily, according to Orthodox tradition."
Icons (icon means "image" in Greek) are sacred objects within the Eastern Orthodox Christian tradition. Found in homes as well as churches, these painted images depict holy persons and saints as well as illustrate scenes from the Scriptures. Icons are not worshiped, but are instead venerated for their ability to focus the power of an individual's prayer to God. As a focus for prayers and meditation for believers, icons serve as “windows into heaven.”
Provenance: ex-Francis & Lilly Robicsek collection, Charlotte, North Carolina, USA
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