This afternoon the Wonderworking Sitka Icon of the Mother of God was at St. Nicholas in Bethlehem, PA. She was so beautiful. Oh my.
I dared to sit as close as I could, just 10 feet away. Very few were present for her arrival. And once those present venerated the icon, all left the Nave. I sat alone with her. It didn’t seem right to leave her alone.
Purely from an artistic point of view the icon is an amazing piece of art. Eighteen inches wide by three feet tall. The icon is encased in a shadow box about 4 inches deep. The quality of the painting is exquist and so life-like. The metal work over the canvas is beautiful. It appears to have been hammering into design and it is almost like the Theotokos’ shoulder is right under her gown. The rays around her and Jesus’ head are formed so they are bent towards you not away from you. Almost like they are reaching out to you to grasp you and draw you in. It is absolutely beautiful. But “it” is more than that.
I sat and gazed into her eyes. She seemed to gaze right back. Through the icon you can feel her presence. You look into her eyes and somehow know she loves you, like a mother loves her child. Her gaze is serene and gives a deep sense of peace. Her mouth is at rest. Her face is not creased with worry lines. No sign of distress, worry, or discontent is present in the icon. She exudes the peace we all yearn and pray for. Though I walked into the temple with those feelings in me, as I gazed into her eyes, I was filled with peace.
Oh Holy Theotokos hear our cry and pray for us!