Icon of the Theotokos – T11


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Egg Tempera


20th c. (Late)


Monk Michael of Athos


The term “Theotokos” can be translated literally from the Greek as “Birth-Giver of God” and was given to the Virgin as a sign of honor and support of the true Incarnation in the flesh of Jesus Christ at the time of the Third Ecumenical Council in a.d. 431 to counteract the heretical Patriarch Nestorius.  Nestorius did not believe that Christ had both a fully human and a fully Divine nature at the same time, so he would not call the Virgin Theotokos, the Birth-Giver of God, but only Christotokos, the Bearer of Christ.  Thus this term “Theotokos” is a champion of the correct Christian doctrine of the Incarnation which we believe to open the right way to salvation, and avoid wrong thinking  leading to deadly error.

This contemporary Greek icon was painted in the 1980’s by the Monk Michael of Mount Athos and shows the Virgin holding her Son tenderly as He reaches up to touch her chin with His right hand.  In His left hand He holds an open scroll to affirm that He is the fulfillment of the prophecies concerning Him from the Holy Prophets.  Let us proclaim now, as we say to each other when greeting at the time of His Nativity, “Christ is born!  Glorify Him!”