Encolpion Triptych Akimov 107.203 «Mother of God Icon «Tenderness» Seraphimо of Diveevo»
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"A small oval encolpion having the shape of a locket with the image of the Mother of God “Tenderness” on its obverse is made of Champlevé – traditional Byzantine technique. Two lines of Archangelic greeting “Hail! Mary, Mother of God, Virgin full of grace, the Lord is with Thee”, are written inside the encolpion.
An encolpion is a reliquary for keeping an object of worship that may be a particle of the holy relics, a pinch of soil, or a pebble taken from the grave of a worshipped saint; or it may be “a secondary object of worship” – a thing of our object world, consecrated with the Divine contact; carrying the grace-giving action of the Holy Spirit. Being cross-shaped the encolpion is wearable as a neck cross; being a simple locket with a sacred image it is a small icon.
The wonder working image on the encolpion obverse is a cellular icon of the great old man St. Seraphim of Sarov. The moment is pictured on the icon when the archangel Gabriel appeared before the Most-Pure Virgin with the Annunciation that She would be the Mother of Messias, the Son of God. “Hail! Mary, Mother of God, Virgin full of grace, the Lord is with Thee: blessed art Thou among women and blessed is the fruit of Thy Womb, For Thou hast borne the Saviour of our souls”, – the archangel announced for young Virgin Mary. And She answered meekly: “I am the servant of God, let all be according His word”. The church says that at that moment the Most-Pure Virgin “became the bride if God” and glorifies Her by the akathist words: “Hail! The most virgin Bride”. This doxology is always written around the image of the Mother of God on the Saint Seraphim-Diveyevo icon.
The icon name “Tenderness” means also “mercy”, “humility”, “charity”. Combination of such states of mind seeming different in one word discloses greatness of the Most Holy Mother of God love to all human beings.
During all his long ascetic life father St. Seraphim of Sarov more than once was honored with seeing the Most Holy Mother of God; talked to Her, and knew well how She looked. So much the valuable for us is the icon that he worshipped like the Most Holy Mother of God Herself, calling it “Joy of Joys”. The holy old man prayed before that icon for the whole world and for salvation of everyone coming to him. Anointing the feeble and sick pilgrims with the oil of that icon he worked wonders and healed them. It was in front of that icon that on January 2\15, 1833 St. Seraphim departed into the Lord, kneeling and folding his arms on his chest crosswise.
After St. Seraphim’s passing away the prior of the Sarov monastery father Niphont gave the holy icon “Joy of Joys” to the sisters of the Seraphim-Diveyevo cloister. There it stayed in a gilded icon-case to the right of the Sanctuary doors in the Trinity cathedral. The last Russian Emperor, passion bearer Nicholas II bestowed the wonder After the cloister having been disbanded and closed in 1927 the hegumenness Mother Alexandra and several sisters settled in Murom. For many years they preserved secretly the wonder working icon of father Seraphim. After the sisters death for 11 years more the sacred object was kept by the protopriest Victor Schapovalnikov who lived in a township Kratovo near Moscow. In 1991 the icon was given to the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Alexis II. Now the Mother of God icon that belonged to St. Seraphim of Sarov stays at the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Cyril. Once a year – during the Laudation of the Most Holy Mother of God – it is taken to the Patriarchal Cathedral of the Theophany in Moscow for universal adoration. The icon observance is performed on July 28/August 10, and on December 9/22."
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