The Gift Of The Nativity December 24, 2008Posted by lizp4 in Uncategorized.
The Nativity of the Lord is one of the favorite subjects of iconographers, who love to write (they don’t call it “paint”) about the sublime event. With this in mind, I give you a couple of renditions. Please enjoy the beauty of these gorgeous pictures.
The Nativity is often called the Incarnation, although the true Incarnation occured at the time of the Angel Gabriel’s announcement to the Virgin Mary (below).
In the icon of the Nativity, you see the Virgin Mary on a bed of childbirth, with the swaddled Child laid in the manger alongside her. The black cave behind her symbolizes both the cave of the stable and the tomb of Jesus after the Resurrection, as well as the netherworld. In most icons, the Infant Jesus is also depicted elsewhere in the image, being bathed and cleaned by the women who would assist at a birth. In the lower corner, we see a sleeping (or drowsing) St. Joseph, being tempted by “the Old Man,” or the flesh. In the upper part of the image, angels gather, their hands covered as a sign of humility, symbolizing that they do nothing without the Will of the Father. At the top, we see the Trinity, and a sharp streak of Grace pointing down to the Babe in the manger, to show us He came down from Heaven. On the left, we see the three Kings, who come to offer their gifts and honor the Newborn King.
Icons tell the story of the image depicted. Sometimes, we have to contemplate them for some time before the story is revealed, but if we are faithful and open, it will come, even if it is “only” a portrait of a single saint. Nothing in an icon is incidental. Or accidental. The iconographer fasts and prays in preparation, before he even begins the image. The work can take years, but the writing of an icon is not a hobby, it is an act of prayerful faith.
The Nativity of the Lord is God’s gift to the world. I offer these icons as my gift to you. May your Christmas be holy and blessed, and may the contemplation of these icons bring you peace and consolation in the coming year.
May you all be blessed.