The Preaching Nature of the Last Judgement Icon
One of the most mysterious and captivating religious paintings in the Russian icons history is the Last Judgement icon. Despite its divine origin, this painting rather represents an illustrative image. It is meant not only for prayers but also to remind people of what awaits them at the end of time. Christians also observe the so-called the Last Judgment Week, the third of the four weeks of the preparation for Great Lent.
The meaning of the Last Judgement icon
No one knows when it will happen or if it will happen at all. Maybe it will take place in a hundred years, maybe in a thousand; but it has long been predicted in the Scripture. Each faithful person should prepare for the Doomsday during his or her lifetime, trying not to ignore any sin committed intentionally or accidentally. Collections of Catholic and Orthodox church icons include a particular version of the icon of the Last Judgement. As the Sacred Book says, every person who has ever lived on Earth will be resurrected, and the Lord will assess their sins. Everyone will get what they deserve. Thus, the Last Judgement icon reminds us of the end of time and the beginning of eternal life in Paradise or Hell.
The Bible includes detailed information about the Great Judgment, also known as the Dread Judgement or the Judgement Day. The first coming of Jesus Christ happened in the first century AD and marked the salvation of all people from original sin. According to the Gospel, our world will end with the second coming of the Messiah, when all the power in the world will be taken over by the devil and his followers. Those will be dark times, but humanity will be freed from this prison forever when the kingdom comes.
Description of the icon
There is a large number of variations of this religious image. The most popular and typical of the icons of Russia is the Novgorod version, which dates back to the 15th century. The Last Judgement icon portrays all the great saints, prophets, angels, archangels, God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Mother. In the lower part of the celestial masterpiece, Hades is depicted with fallen angels, as well as the Satan himself in the guise of a snake. He is defeated and captured by the angels.
Numerous variants of the Last Judgement scene can also be found in frescoes depicting the Second Coming of Christ, which are painted on the walls of many temples in Russia, Ukraine, Georgia, and Greece.