Orthodox Icons of the Twelve Great Feasts

Orthodox icon of The Resurrection – The Harrowing of Hades with Church Feasts

Each year, the entire Orthodox Church celebrates together Paskha (Easter) and the Twelve Great Feasts above all the rest religious events. While Paskha is the greatest Christian Feast that celebrates Jesus Christ and His Resurrection from the dead, other feasts mark the most important events leading up to Resurrection and after it. No wonder, each of them has its own festal religious icons depicting the celebrated event. Here is the list of Eastern Orthodox Church icons of the Twelve Great Feasts:

  1. The Nativity of the Mother of God (September 8th) – This religious icon depicts the miraculous birth of the Mother of God, who was born of a man (Joachim) and his barren wife (Anna).
  1. The Elevation of the Holy Cross (September 14th) – Orthodox Church icons of this feast usually depict St. Helena and St. Macarius elevating the Holy Cross, as a tribute to the cross of Jesus Christ, and showing it to the people.
  1. The Entrance of the Mother of God into the Temple (November 21st) – These festal icons depict the infant Mary racing towards St. Zacharias at the entrance of the Temple.
  1. The Nativity of Christ (December 25th) – These holy icons depict the Birth of Christ in a cave surrounded by very sharp rocks that symbolize the cruel world.
  1. The Theophany of Christ (January 6th) – This religious icon depicts another important event, the Baptism of Christ in the Jordan, which marked the beginning of His ministry on earth.
  1. The Meeting of Christ in the Temple (February 2nd) – The Orthodox icons of Candlemas (The Meeting of Christ in the Temple) depict the story of Christ’s dedication in the Temple in Jerusalem.
  1. The Annunciation (March 25th) – The Annunciation icons depict the Virgin Mary sitting on an elevated seat and the Archangel Gabriel telling her that she was going to have a baby.
  1. The Entrance into Jerusalem (the Sunday before Easter) – The Orthodox Church icons of this feast, also known as Palm Sunday, depict Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey.
  1. The Ascension (40 Days after Paskha) – This religious icon of Christ depicts the moment when He was taken up into the Heavens before the disciples.
  1. The Descent of the Holy Spirit (50 Days after Paskha) – The holy icons of this feast, also called Pentecost, depict the apostles sitting in a semicircle, with the Holy Spirit appeared under the form of tongues of fire alighting upon each of them.
  1. The Transfiguration (August 6th) – The Orthodox icons of the Transfiguration depict Christ’s appearance to the apostles when they have gone up a mountain to pray.
  1. The Dormition of the Mother of God (August 15th) – These icons depict the Mother of God upon the funeral bier, with Christ standing behind her.

These are twelve major icons and celebrations (except for Paskha) of the Liturgical year. However, there are also Eastern Orthodox icons that depict all these feasts simultaneously. These unique masterpieces of religious icon art, known as ‘polnitsy,’ were mainly created by Palekh iconographers, which makes them even more valuable for collectors. Luckily, such rare antique Russian icons can be found in our online gallery!

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