Icon of the Theotokos (Hilandar) – T18


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Hilandar Monastery, Mt. Athos, Greece


14th c. (Late)




This 14th century Byzantine icon is painted in an egg- tempera technique and resides now at Hilandar Monastery on Mount Athos, an all-monastic peninsula in northeastern Greece.  It is a part of a “Deisis” set of icons, which is the Greek word for “Supplicating” for they show Christ in the center icon with pairs of icons of Saints on either side all having their hands raised up in supplication asking the Lord to hear our prayers.  This particular icon is of the Virgin Mary and shows her with an expression that is attentive to both the person who is asking for prayer, but more importantly, to her Son Who is answering all of our prayers.

The Greek term “Theotokos” can be translated literally as “Birth-Giver of God” and was formally given as a title to the Virgin at the Third Ecumenical Council in a.d. 431 in Ephesus.  This Council affirmed that Christ was truly born in the flesh and had both a true human nature and a truly Divine one.  The heretical Patriarch Nestorios of Constantinople at that time refused to call the Virgin by this name, only Christotokos, or “Christ-Bearer” which was a denial of His two natures, and true Christology.