Icon of Theophany (c. 1600) – F148


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On this feast, we celebrate the “Manifestation of God,” the meaning of the word Theophany, for here Christ is baptized by St. John the Forerunner whose hand is upon His head.  Another name for this feast is Epiphany, which means a showing forth.  This is a Trinitarian Feast, because God the Father speaks to affirm that Jesus Christ is His Son in Whom He is well pleased, and the Holy Spirit descends in the form of a dove sent from the Father.

This is also a feast of light and of water.  The Light of the Theophany shines forth into the world at this beginning of Christ’s active ministry and illumines all of Creation.  The waters on earth are sanctified both by this blessing of Christ entering therein and in the continued blessing of waters made each year in the Church on this blessed day.  The celebration of this feast predates the celebration of Christ’s Nativity, and that service is patterned after this one.

The angels look on with wonder as the light descends with the Holy Spirit from above.  Below and in the waters is a personification of the River Jordan, recalling the words:  “The sea saw it and fled; Jordan was turned back” (Psalm 113:5).  Blessed is God!  This is a traditional Greek icon from about 1600 where St. John has his right hand on Jesus’ head to baptize him.  A personification of the Sea and the Jordan is seen in the water, for “the sea saw it and fled, Jordan was turned back.” (Ps 113)

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Church Feast Day 1



Egg Tempera


Icon Museum, Reclinghausen, Germany


ca 1600