May 26th: Our Lady of the Sign (2)

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The icon of Our Lady of the sign depicts the Theotokos at the Annunciation, at the moment when Mary pronounces the words, "May it be done to me according to your word."(Luke 1:38). Mary faces the viewer directly, depicted either full or half length, with her hands raised in the “orans” (Medieval Latin, which translates as one who is praying) position, and with the Child Jesus depicted within a round aureole upon her.

The image of the Christ child represents him at the moment of his conception in the womb of the Virgin. He is depicted not as a fetus, but rather vested in divine robes, and often holding a scroll, symbol of his role as a teacher. Sometimes his robes are gold or white, symbolizing divine glory; sometimes they are blue and red, symbolizing the two natures of Christ. His face is depicted as that of an adult, indicating that he was at the same time a human infant and the eternal God, one of the Trinity. His right hand is raised in blessing.

As with most Orthodox icons of Mary, the letters ΜΡ ΘΥ (short for ΜΗΤΗΡ ΘΕΟΥ, "Mother of God") are usually placed on the upper left and right of the head of the Virgin Mary. The original icon or Our Lady of the Sign currently resides in the Cathedral of Saint Sophia in Novgorod.

Rejoice, you who abolished the corrupter of hearts.
Rejoice, you who gave birth to the Sower of chastity.
Rejoice, bridal Chamber of a seedless marriage.
Rejoice, you who joined the faithful to the Lord.
Rejoice, fair Nursing-mother of virgins.
Rejoice, bridal Escort of holy souls.

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