Moses sees the Burning Bush (Exodus 3:2), shown here with Mary visible in a circle within the flames. Mary was considered to have contained the fire of God, yet was not harmed (this explanation applies also to the separate Ognevidnaya icon depicting Mary with a fiery red face, popular in the 19th century, for which there is no origin story).
Isaiah’s lips are purified by the fire of a coal taken from the altar by a seraph. (Isaiah 6:5-7); Mary was considered purified by being pregnant with the “fire of God.”
The prophet Ezekiel sees a closed door in the East (Ezekiel 44:1-2), which symbolizes the virginity of Mary in E. Orthodoxy, the closed door to a temple containing the glory of God — the fire of divinity.
The Old Testament forefather Jacob sees, in a dream, a ladder from earth to heaven. Mary is considered a ladder uniting earth and heaven in E. Orthodoxy, through her bearing of Jesus: “Rejoice, heavenly ladder on which God descended.”
Moving inward, we next come to the points of the eight-pointed “slava” (“Glory”) representing divine light and the Eighth day of Creation, the Day of Eternity.
In the upper left segment is an angel, representing the Evangelist Matthew as a winged man. At upper right is an eagle, representing the Evangelist Mark. At lower left is a lion, representing the Evangelist John, and at lower right is an ox, representing the Evangelist Luke.
The most interesting parts of the icon are the angels in the “petals” of the rose, which are usually eight or more in number. They are the forces behind the elements of nature, the hidden powers that control the weather and relate also to the apocalyptic end of the world. Inscriptions describing them vary from icon to icon.
Blog "notes" are personal reflections and subject to editing. I often update postings with more photos, information, and corrections. Before posting or publishing elsewhere you might inquire.
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Christi Marie Jentz
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