This icon of the “Panagia” or “Most-Pure” Virgin, who is holding her beloved Son, is known as “of the Passion,” for two angels above bear the instruments of the Passion: the cross, lance, and sponge. They warn the Virgin Mother and Child of what must come to pass later for the salvation of the world. After the fall of Constantinople to Islam in a.d. 1453, many of the best iconographers from the Byzantine Empire (as later the Eastern Roman Empire was first called many years after 1453) began to work in the more outlying areas of the now Ottoman Empire where there was more freedom to do this type of work. Crete was one of these main centers of Byzantine culture, and this icon comes from that area where many of the great Post-Byzantine masters of that time worked.
Here the Lord looks up with some trepidation for His human nature could still feel pain, fear, and apprehension as all human beings do. We see that his hands hold tightly to the Virgin’s hands as she carefully holds Him. The Mystery of the Incarnation and this Mother/Son relationship is for us only entered, not solved.