One of the famous 16th century Stavronikita Festal set of icons, this icon depicts the falling asleep, or Dormition, of the Most Holy Theotokos and Virgin Mary. Christ takes her pure soul from her body as all of the Apostles miraculously gathered from all over the earth to bid her farewell to an earthly life here with us. Tradition tells us that the Virgin was 65 and 70 years old when she died, as she had met St. Dionysius the Areopagite after 52 a.d. The Church teaches that she died a natural death but without pain, yet her pure body was taken to Heaven three days later.
The monk Theophanes the Cretan painted this set of icons on the iconostasis, or icon screen which separates the Bema, or sacred Altar, from the body of the Church, or Nave, where the Faithful stand for Divine Liturgy and other liturgical services. The set shows many of the most important events in the life of Jesus and the Church in its early and formative stage. This icon is the 15th in that set. Theophanes’ icons are considered masterpieces of iconographic art, still adorn the church at Stavronikita Monastery on Mount Athos, and show marvelous Cretan post-Byzantine form.