The Rich Symbolism of the Christian Icons of Theophany

The Rich Symbolism of the Christian Icons of Theophany

Theophany is one of the oldest Christian feasts, dedicated to the Baptism of Our Lord and the revelation of the Holy Trinity. During His baptism, according to all three synoptic Gospels, the Holy Spirit descended on Jesus in the form of a dove; at that very moment, a heavenly voice proclaimed that the one being baptized was His beloved Son. Despite all the diversity, Christian icons of Theophany have common details. Let’s take a closer look at these icons!

The description of the Christian icons of Theophany

Christian icons of Theophany portray Christ almost naked in the Jordan River. To the left of Jesus Christ, there is a depiction of the prophet John the Baptist, who pours water on the head of the Savior. Despite the fact that the Gospel does not tell us about the presence of angels at the Lord’s Baptism, they are frequently depicted in the icons, leaning toward Christ and, like the godparents, holding the covers in their hands to dress Him after the baptism is finished. Above the Savior standing in the water, there is a segment of the sky, from which a dove descends to Christ; this is a symbol of the Holy Spirit and the rays of the “trinity light.” At the feet of the Savior, you can see human figures; they mean the crossing of the Jews over the Red Sea.

The symbolism of the icons of Theophany

The very first symbol in Christian icons of Theophany is Christ Himself. He comes in majesty, naked but unashamed, representing the human beauty and the revelation of new Adam who will save the world. Moreover, at Baptism, the Lord blesses the waters of Jordan with His right hand. Now water is a symbol of life, not death, as it was during the Great Flood. At the top of the icon, there is a circle with the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove following to Jesus Christ, which symbolizes the presence of God the Father who cannot be depicted in a human form. Some Orthodox icons also depict the strange creatures riding fish, which represent the Jordan River and the Sea.

The icons of the Feast of Theophany are an integral part of Christianity. The word “Theophany” means “The Revelation of God” and marks the true Trinitarian nature of the Lord.

Do not miss our new blog posts about other important religious icons!

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