This contemporary Greek icon is “of the Passion” which shows the Lord in His mother’s arms looking up at one of the angels who is appearing and bringing to Him the instruments of His coming Passion at the end of His life: the Cross, the Spear, the Nails, and the Sponge to allay His thirst. This is a dreadful sight, especially to such a young Child Who in His Divine Nature knows all these things and is willing to do the Will of His Father. So He bows His head in profound humility, as St. Paul says, “and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the Cross” (Phil 2:8).
Yet in His human Nature He naturally recoils from the pain and suffering that He sees before Him. Christ grasps His mother’s hand and His sandal falls off as He is startled by this vision. This is a great Mystery, these two Natures of Christ in one Person, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity. We cannot solve the Mystery, just enter into it until it transfigures us. The Virgin here is a “Formidable Protection” to us as she protects her Son. May we seek her protection and help in our own times of great need.