Russian Religious Icons of the Twelve Great Feasts

Russian Religious Icons of the Twelve Great Feasts

In Russian Orthodox iconography, there is a large array of festive icons that are highly revered and valued by the faithful. Such icons also serve as major decorative components of churches and monasteries. Russian religious icons depicting the Twelve Great Feasts are of special importance to the entire Orthodox world. They reveal the significant events in the lives of Jesus Christ and the Mother of God and are dedicated to the twelve principal Orthodox feasts. In this blog post, we will explore their characteristics and meaning in more detail.

The Twelve Great Feasts of the Russian Orthodox Church

The Orthodox calendar consists of twelve chief feasts that are called the Twelve Great Feasts. Each of them is associated with a particular event in the life of Christ and the Mother of God. Believers celebrate these on certain days, coming to the church service and praying with Orthodox feast icons.

Here is a list of the Twelve Great Feasts in chronological order.

  • The Nativity of the Theotokos – September 8
  • The Exaltation of the Holy Cross – September 14
  • The Presentation of the Theotokos – November 21
  • The Nativity of Christ – December 25
  • The Baptism of the Lord – January 6
  • The Presentation of Jesus at the Temple – February 2
  • The Annunciation – March 25
  • The Entry into Jerusalem – Sunday before Easter
  • The Ascension of Christ – 40th day after Easter
  • Pentecost – 50th day after Easter
  • The Transfiguration of Jesus – August 6
  • The Dormition of the Theotokos – August 15

Russian religious icons of the Twelve Great Feasts

Russian religious icons of the Twelve Great Feasts are often displayed together in separate panels. Typically, the central icon features an image of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ and the Harrowing of Hell. This scene is extremely important, as it displays the biblical motif and meaning of Easter. The central image is surrounded by the depictions of the twelve major events in the life of the Savior and the Blessed Virgin Mary. They follow one another in chronological order, beginning with the Nativity of the Theotokos and ending with the Assumption of the Theotokos, a holiday that gives hope for a happy and prosperous year ahead.

Russian religious icons of the twelve feasts are commonly placed in the second row of the church iconostasis. These images are highly valued by Orthodox Christians. One prays with them asking for health, mental clearance, protection, as well as healing from bodily and mental ailments.