Icon of the Nativity of the Lord (Sinai, 7th Century) – F66


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Church Feast Day 1



Encaustic, Folk Art


St. Catherine's Monastery, Sinai, Egypt


7th c.


The early Christian Church borrowed and then baptized certain secular art forms to be spirit-bearing in the depiction of icons from the very earliest times of Christianity.  One of these forms was encaustic wax, from the funerary art of Egypt, which mixed wax and pigments to create bright and lasting visual form.  Many other art forms were also brought in and transfigured by the Church including mosaics, frescoes, egg tempera, Greek and Hebrew music, ancient architecture, and poetic and literary forms.  When brought in they were changed to be receptive to spiritual life and to express the great mysteries of the Holy Christian Church.

This 7th c. icon is very early, and has a simple almost folk like form, unlike most Byzantine icons.  It portrays the Virgin Mary with Christ in His Manger in the Cave at Bethlehem while the animals look on.  The Three Magi are present with gifts in their hands, while the Angels fly above, the shepherds pipe below, St. Joseph is outside the Cave, and Christ is washed after He is born the Saviour of the World.  Let us sing with the Angels, “Glory to God in the Highest, and on Earth peace, good will toward men” (Luke 2:14).