Icon Akimov 102.206 «The Mother of God Icon «Seven Arrows»
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"On the Mother of God icon “Seven Arrows” the most Holy Mother of God is symbolically as if pierced with seven arrows. That is the image of the sorrow of Mother who saw Her Son’s suffering. Just as the Christ’s body was pierced with nails and lance, the soul of the Most-Pure Mother of Him was struck by the “weapon” of grief and profound pain. By the teaching of the Orthodox Church the Lord has been crucified for the sins of the mankind, and during the Liturgy is being crucified again and again for new sins of recent people. Therefore the seven arrows also symbolize seven mortal human sins bringing new sorrows to the Mother of God.
The iconography of the “Seven Arrows” was created to words of St. Simeon the God-receiver pronounced in the Temple of Jerusalem where the most Holy Mother of God and St. Joseph had brought the infant Christ on the fortieth day after His birth. As St. Luke the Evangelist narrates, St. Simeon has been forecast by the Holy Ghost that he won’t die until he sees the Messiah. The holy elder met the Holy Family on the threshold of the Temple and was inspired to see the Incarnate Christ the Saviour in the Infant Jesus. He took the Infant into his arms and uttered the famous words that ever since had crowned each evensong: “Now thou dost dismiss thy servant, O Lord, according to thy word in peace”. Then Simeon blessed Joseph and the Holy Mother of the Saviour and addressed Her with exactly the Simeon`s prophecy: “Behold this child is set for the fall and for the resurrection of many in Israel and for a sign which shall be contradicted. And thy own soul a sword shall pierce, that, out of many hearts thoughts may be revealed” (Luke 2, 34-35).
Two more icons with similar iconography exist in Orthodoxy: “The Softening of Evil Hearts” and “Simeon`s prophecy”. They differ by the fact that the former shows swords instead of arrows, the latter having the arrows located in a different way – four from one side, and three from the other. However all three icons belong to the same iconographic type, so they are equal in the prayer practice.
The most Holy Mother of God in Her wonder making icon “Seven Arrows” is venerated as a peacemaker quieting hostility; protector from malicious intent. The icon is invoked for stopping internecine feud as well as for overcoming wicked thoughts and ill feelings of one’s own heart. Everyone praying to this icon feel mental suffering as well as corporeal ones to be alleviated when a heart is softened. And if one prays for one’s enemies before this image hostile feelings give way to mercy, mordant hatred abating.
The Mother of God icon “Seven Arrows” is commemorated on August 26 (13). Observance of the icon “The Softening of Evil Hearts” is carried out on All Saints Sunday after Whitsun."
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