Icon of the Angel with the Golden Hair (Novgorod, 12th Century) – S346


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Egg Tempera




12th c.


Russian Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia


This is an extraordinary 12th century Novgorodian icon depicting an angel with golden hair in a classical style of iconography, probably influenced by the Byzantine masters from Constantinople.  Although not marked so specifically, it is considered to be an icon of the great Archangel Gabriel, one of the Seraphim, the highest of the nine ranks of angelic hosts.  St. Gabriel is also called, with St. Michael, the leader of all these angelic hosts.

Visually striking and beautifully executed, St. Gabriel’s large eyes, luminous and serene face, and sweet expression show a tenderness and love of God through his saints and angels for us, and for all of Creation.  It is taught that the immaterial Creation preceded our material one, and yet we are deeply connected because God’s grace flows abundantly through each rank of the angelic hosts as it touches us.  St. Gabriel’s golden hair shines with the light of Heaven, for in that world all of the brightness of perception and awareness comes from God’s light, which illumines all.  May we here on earth also be illumined by this radiance,  opening our hearts to our humble Lord Jesus Christ in love and worship!