The Icon of Sophia, the Wisdom of God (Kiev)

Commemorated on September 8

      The Icon of Sophia, the Wisdom of God (Kiev), occupies an unique place in the Russian Orthodox Church. On the icon is depicted the Mother of God, and incarnated of Her is the Hypostatic Wisdom the Son of God. In Wisdom or Sophia, ponders the Son of God, about Whom in the Book of the Proverbs of Solomon it says: "Wisdom hath built up Her House supported of seven pillars" (9: 1). These words refer to Christ, the Son of God, Who in apostolic epistles is called "Wisdom of God" (1 Cor. 1: 30), and the word "House" refers to the MostHoly Virgin Mary, of Whom the Son of God is incarnated. The arrangement of the icon testifies concerning the fulfillment of prophecy. On the icon of Kievan Sophia is depicted a church and standing at it is the Mother of God in chiton-robe, with a veil on the head, under hallway of seven pillars. The palms of Her hands are outstretched, and her feet are set upon a crescent moon. The Mother of God holds the Praeternal Christ-Child, blessing with Her right hand, and holding the Infant with Her left. On the entrance cornice are inscribed the words from the Book of Proverbs: "Wisdom hath built up Her House supported of seven pillars". Over the entrance are imaged God the Father and God the Holy Spirit. From the mouth of God the Father issues the words: "I am affirmation of Her footsteps". Along both sides are imaged the seven Archangels with outstretched wings, holding in their hands symbols of their duties. On the right side: Michael with flaming sword, Uriel with a lightning flash hurling downwards, Raphael with alabaster vessel of myrh. On the left side: Gabriel with a lily blossom, Selaphiel with a scale, Jerudiel with royal crown, and Barachiel with flowers on a white shawl. Under a cloud with the crescent moon, serving as footrest for the Mother of God, is imaged an amvon-stair with seven steps (depicting the Church of God on earth): those standing on the seven steps are the Old Testament witnesses of the manifestation of Wisdom the Forefathers and the Prophets. On each of the seven amvon-stair steps are inscribed: faith, hope, love, purity, humility, blessedness, glory. The seven steps of the amvon-stair are set upon the seven pillars, on which are inscribed images and their explanation taken from the Apocalypse.

1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.

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The Icon of
Sophia, the Wisdom of God (Kiev)

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