Here Christ is depicted descending into Hades bearing the instruments of the Passion: the Cross and the nails. His hands are as if bound but no rope is tying them together, demonstrating that He voluntarily chose to be fettered and willingly suffered for the salvation of all. We see the bleeding wounds on His side and hands, for He has kept His wounds even in His Resurrection as a sign that His agony and suffering were real and remain as a pledge of His undying Love for each person, even to His Death on the Cross. With His eyes closed He is truly dead to the world and all of its passionate needs during His descent into Hades, yet inwardly beholding all things as the all-seeing God.
When we think of God and the attributes that are His by nature–unconditional Love, complete omnipresence and omnipotence, Existence Itself without the boundaries of time and space, all-holiness, absolute compassion and empathy, Truth that is never swayed by partiality yet tempered by Divine Mercy, total understanding–each is astounding and hard to comprehend, but this icon’s “Extreme Humility” is perhaps the most close and dear to us.