Miracle Iconography and Symbolism of the Burning Bush Icon

Miracle Iconography and Symbolism of the Burning Bush Icon

Russian icon art is a genuinely interesting phenomenon that does not end with the veneration of miraculous images. Holy paintings and legends associated with them have specific days dedicated to their celebration. For instance, the day of the Burning Bush icon is celebrated on September 17 (or September 4 in the old style). This day is also considered the memorial day of the Prophet Moses. The Church celebrates this date by reciting the akathist hymn and arranging prayers.

The Burning Bush, also known as the Unburnt Bush, represents one of the Old Testament images of the Holy Mother. According to the Church tradition, Moses, who was just a shepherd at that time, witnessed a thorn tree enveloped by the fire but not burning to a crisp. This extraordinary event marked the immaculate conception of Jesus Christ – the Virgin Mary conceived the future Savior by the Holy Spirit. Despite becoming the Mother, she still was a virgin and remained pure even after the birth of Messiah. Such an incredible story laid the basis for the creation of one of the most revered depictions of the Mother of God – the Burning Bush icon.

There is another interpretation of the Unburnt Bush icons. The Blessed Virgin was born into this sinful world but remained innocent and without any taste of iniquity or sin. Pious Christian believers wanted to reflect this preaching idea in the wondrous religious image, hence these highly revered icons of Russia emerged.

Description and symbolism of the Burning Bush icon

The celestial painting depicts two concave rhombuses; their edges form an eight-pointed star that serves as the center of the image. One of the rhombuses personifies Our Lady who survived the fire – her face is usually painted against a green or blue background. The second figure, which is executed in bright red colors, symbolizes the fire.

In the center of the sacred artwork, the Blessed Mother is holding the Child with her one hand and a small ladder with the other. The burning thorn bush is also reflected on the religious painting. The ladder acts as a symbol of the Son of God coming down to the sinful Earth. Near the ladder, you can see the mountain symbolizing the ascent. Three spirits are portrayed in different parts of the religious icon, and each of them has its own wonderworking denotation.

Additionally, the Burning Bush icon features a realm of angels that personify the following blessings:

  • wisdom;
  • endowment;
  • magisterium;
  • charity;
  • creation of miracles.

The Unburnt Bush icon is believed to possess powerful miraculous properties – it is said to save homes from fires and help sick people recover.