Athos for Putin

 

“Greek clergy and public figures are going to present a gift to Russian President Vladimir Putin a unique icon - Patriotissa Panagia (Virgin of patriot), or "Unity". It was written specifically for Russia, in gratitude for their contribution to preserving the traditions of Orthodoxy, for his contribution to the development of Europe, told Russian journalists clergy and representatives of the NGO ELAIA ("Elia", "Oliva").
Present the icon as a gift planned in 2016 year, when the cross year Russia and Greece.
Icon painters of Mount Athos wrote, it is unique not only for work but also in size - 2,3 1,8 meters per meter. Weighs icon 150 kilograms. And it is called "Unity", because it is a line from the Gospel - "Let there be one."
At the writing of icons blessed Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill, said rector of the church of Panagia Sumela in Minidi Father Gregory. In his temple to be stored icon until it is transported to Russia.”
[The full text of the article released English is provided in the Appendix below.]


This news item first appeared on the 16th of February on Russian news websites.  The English text above appears on the website ‘News CYPRUS’ and is reproduced exactly.

Before going any further I must clarify that the title (or name) of the icon which was, for some reason, mistranslated into English as “Virgin of patriot”. The word “patriot” is indeed written on the right side of the halo of the Mother of God, immediately below the customary Greek four-letters abbreviation “MP OY” – “Mother of God”; this is the title of the icon. However, the word in question is written in Russian and says “ПAT-PИO-TKA” (“patriot-ka”) that is a single female form of the word “patriot” – “female patriot”. Properly translated, the title of the icon is “Mother of God the Patriot” and this is in fact how it has been translated in Russian mass-media. It is noteworthy that in Russia we have many kinds of icon of the Mother God like “Mother of God the Milk Giver”, “Mother of God the Hope of those who have lost hope”, etc. We have never had “Mother of God the Patriot” though.

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Just a few years ago the text of this news release would be perceived as a parody or delirium. Today very little there causes strong emotions. This exhaustion of the soul is, I think, further proof that Russia continues in its steady movement towards absolute evil. Already very little amazes because our perceptions have grown dull from the abundance of absurdity and lies. The fact that this story comes not from Russian but from Greece does not change anything: Greece simply partook the Russian disease and assumed its place on the Russian metaphysical map.

I will leave the reader to make their own conclusions about the various statements the text makes and immediately move to the most important matter – to the icon itself or, speaking more precisely, to its iconographic scheme which gives the key to its understanding.

Anyone familiar with the world of icon painting would immediately recognise in the icon ‘Mother of God the Patriot’ (Lord forgive me!) the icon ‘Mother of God of the Sign’ much venerated in Byzantium and Ancient Russia. In Russia it was also called the ‘Mother of God of Incarnation’. This is probably theologically the deepest icon of the Mother of God. The iconography of the ‘Mother of God of the Sign’ is based on the Old and New Testament prophecies about the birth of the Saviour: by the prophet Isaiah “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, a young woman shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel”[1] and by the archangel Gabriel “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be cold holy, the Son of God”[2]. The Mother of God is depicted standing with her hands raised up in a prayer; “on” her chest is a glowing circle/ heavenly sphere – there the blessing Baby Jesus is depicted. The meaning of this representation is clear; from now God is with us, “The Word became flesh”[3], in the Incarnation of Christ, which is taking place on the icon immediately before the eyes of a viewer, all the creation is blessed and transfigured.  Occasionally the heavenly sphere is only hinted at and the Baby Jesus is painted directly on His Mother’s cloak in the semi-circle formed by the folds of the cloak. On icons of ‘Mother of God of the Sign’ quiet often would be painted the figures of the saints, archangels and angels, that is, the part of the creation which has already entered the Heavenly Church. Whoever would be depicted on the icon the central figures would always remain the same – the Mother of God with the Baby Jesus Christ. Regardless of the details the icon depicts the fundamental Christian dogma of the Incarnation without which nothing is left of Christianity. Perhaps because of this the prototype “Mother of God of the Sign” has been found on the earliest frescos in the Christian catacombs.

Now, armed with this knowledge, let us look at the new icon from Athos. There is the Mother of God, there is the sphere within her but inside it is panted not the Baby Jesus but… the map of Greece! The adult Jesus Christ is depicted above, over the Mother of God. His figure appears as if it is inside an invisible circle (see the shape of the outline of the bottom of the figure) and He is blessing in exactly the say manner as the Baby Jesus, that is, with two hands. Christ Pantocrator (“Christ the Judge”, the iconographic type in which Christ is now represented on this icon) always blesses with one hand and always holds the scroll of the book of the Gospels in the other, this is why His figure here, with two blessing hands and “cut” by an invisible semi-cycle looks extremely artificial. Perhaps it would look different in a different context but here, in the frame of the iconography of ‘Mother of God of the Sign’ it looks as if it was “extracted” from the circle in which the map of Greece is now placed, was expanded and then glued above.

Thus this icon has acquired a new symbolism, quite blasphemous. The Mother of God is now “pregnant” with Greece, not with the Saviour. The “Sign of God” is already not the incarnation of Jesus Christ but Greece. Jesus Christ is blessing the new order of things from heaven.

Other figures and details are enriching the new meaning: the state officials of Greece and Russia, the two churches of Aghia Sophia, one in Istanbul and the other in Kiev, in the hands of the Mother of God; the double headed Byzantine/ Kiev / Russian eagle. This is not so much an icon but the genealogical tree or the crest of “patriots”, Greek and Russian. It is not clear though why the Mother of God herself is call “patriot”? Would it not, in that case, be logical to paint the map of ancient Israel instead of Greece in the circle? Or maybe Greece is the New Israel that “adopted” Russia so to speak?

Next I was planning to write about the aesthetics of the icon but, longer I looked at it, the harder it was to believe that it actually exists in reality. It cannot be so! It is so terribly painted, combining completely incompatible depictions: holy warriors, stand secure and heavily on the concrete-grey ground, higher – the archangels on oblong carpets, higher – much bigger figures of the prophets, their figures cut along their waist by horizontal straight lines, and the figure of Christ above them somehow cut by a circular line… The figure of the Mother of God with enormous wooden arms, disproportionally short, and the map of Greece somehow made in a way that its white border looks very much like the outline of a female waist beneath the dress of the Mother of God. The letter “E”, the emblem of an entirely earthly organisation ‘ELAIA’, is somehow written on the ground just before the Mother of God, in the icon space = the space of the Kingdom of Heaven. In the halo of the Mother of God is painted the olive branches which form the emblem of that organisation. The style of painting is crude while the Athos style has always been recognized for its fine nuances in the modelling of faces. But forget about the style! – Such a strange composition, the figures which are rotating like balls in the hands of a juggler, sharply diminishing in their proportions from the top to the bottom and appear almost to fall down into the space below them. I cannot believe my eyes!

Then what is all this about? Maybe someone made a deliberately blasphemous icon in Russia, by some commission from a “high level”, with some enigmatic purpose? Maybe it is just another “test”; will the blasphemy be digested or not? Or was it really painted in Greece but not on Athos – in some bizarre icon studio and presented as if “from Athos”, for the additional weight so to speak? Or – and this is the worst – all is true, it is made on Athos, and some elder truly blessed it. Who knows, perhaps they truly tried to make an icon for Putin and this what came up – the depiction of the true state of affairs in Russia, Greece, and everywhere this hellish disease has touched.

Despite its absurdity the “icon for Putin” is still the sign, of what has come and is to come. This is the reality so much desired by so many: the Incarnation is cancelled, God is not with us – with us are our lands and our patriot-warriors. Instead of Christ, at the door of our hearts is now knocking a scary figure, something-like the goddess Athena, something-like the Mother-homeland, with wooden arms something-like those of a wind mill or a swastika. Instead of Christ the “Mother of God” gives birth/ sanctifies “the original land” and together with it – the new people united by the national idea. The love of Christ is swapped with love for the homeland and one’s own people and this is proclaimed holy – this is why the “Mother of God” was given the title “Patriot”. This is – the nauseously familiar, eternal attempt to swap the heavenly with the earthly, God – to make idols.

Why speak if everything is so obvious? Please compare the “icon for Putin” with the old-Russian icon ‘Mother of God of the Sign’[4]. I have deliberately placed their fragments beside each other.

“So when you see the desolating sacrilege spoken by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place, then…”[5]

 

19 February 2015

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Appendix

News CYPRUS’
17.02.2015 - 10: 03

 

The monks on Mount Athos wrote a unique icon for the President of Russia

Greek clergy intend to present as a gift to Russian President unique icon "Unity". "This icon represents the heritage of Byzantine culture, which perceived Russia. And we very much believe in this difficult hour, that the Mother of God can help Greece to improve relations with Russia," - said the elder Athos George Alevras Kavsokalivit.

Greek clergy and public figures are going to present a gift to Russian President Vladimir Putin a unique icon - Patriotissa Panagia (Virgin of patriot), or "Unity". It was written specifically for Russia, in gratitude for their contribution to preserving the traditions of Orthodoxy, for his contribution to the development of Europe, told Russian journalists clergy and representatives of the NGO ELAIA ("Elia", "Oliva").
Present the icon as a gift planned in 2016 year, when the cross year Russia and Greece.


Image worthy of Russian Orthodox people

Icon painters of Mount Athos wrote, it is unique not only for work but also in size - 2,3 1,8 meters per meter. Weighs icon 150 kilograms. And it is called "Unity", because it is a line from the Gospel - "Let there be one."

At the writing of icons blessed Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill, said rector of the church of Panagia Sumela in Minidi Father Gregory. In his temple to be stored icon until it is transported to Russia.

According to him, and frame the icon has a meaning - it shows the first governor of Greece Ioannis Kapodistrias, Admiral Fyodor Ushakov, revered as a saint, St. George.

In the coming days, the icon will be delivered to the Ministry of National Defense of Greece, the territory of which there is a small church. Icon will meet Russian Defense Minister and the heads of the armed forces of Greece. There it will be several days.

"She will worship, pray, and then the icon will bring to the military hospital, and then, on the day of the Triumph of Orthodoxy, will bring to our church. It has a symbolic meaning, we have Russian church, our congregation - speaking population. The icon would first bring in Russian Church in the center of Athens, but there are no such conditions, as we have. We icon will be up to 2016, when during the days of Russia in Greece, we would like to pass it on to the Russian state, "- said Father Gregory.

Create Russian version of the image of Our Lady of Unity, in all its grandeur worthy of the Orthodox people of Russia, it was decided in 2006 year, said Athos Archimandrite George Elder Alevras Kavsokalivit.

In the beginning was written by the Greek version of the icon, it is smaller in size - 1,5 1 meters per meter and is located on Mount Athos. In 2009 was written by the Russian version of the icon.

"When we visited Russia in 2009 year, we received a copy of the icon of Our Lady patriot Patriarch Kirill and received the blessing of writing large icons, which we would like to give the President of Russia. And no matter whether the icon will go to Russia or not go, it belongs Russia ", - said the old man.

He said he loved Russian as their second home. "The Russian Church is strong and free Orthodox Church," - said Archimandrite.

"This icon represents the heritage of Byzantine culture, heritage, who took Russia. And we very much believe in this difficult hour, that the Mother of God can help Greece to improve relations with Russia. That's what we were engaged in recent years, with the head of the fund ELAIA Ioannis Kornilakisom" - said Archimandrite George.


Icon and the first governor of Greece

The words "Let there be one" used the first governor of Greece Ioannis Kapodistrias in a letter to the clergy of the Greek Church at the time, told the writer and researcher Ioannis Kornilakis, CEO of the nonprofit organization ELAIA. He has been studying the life and work of John Kapodistrias, former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia and the first governor of Greece after independence. Kornilakis book "Ioannis Kapodistrias - holy policies". Rare book includes letters 930 ruler, historical documents on the history of Greece, Russia and the whole of Europe, that have not been published. Preface to the book written Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Alexy II shortly before his death and the present Patriarch Kirill, Patriarch of the Ecumenical Patriarch of Jerusalem, President of Cyprus.

Icon - a reciprocal gift of Greece, said Kornilakis.

"King Nicholas I did not want to let go of Kapodistrias, but he said that for many years given the service of Russia and would like to spend the last years of his life to the service of his country. The mother of two emperors Maria Feodorovna gave him a gift - an icon of the Mother of God, which Kapodistrias never parted. We are now more than 180 years, created a Russian version of the icon of the "Unity" - said the researcher.

"I think it reflects the aesthetics of the Russian people," - said Kornilakis. According to him, in particular, the icon has a picture of St. George - the same as the emblem of the Russian president.
"We would like to see the icon was transferred to the Russian president," - said the researcher.

Kornilakis said that when the icon was brought to the temple two metropolitans - in Trikalle in Karditsa, it was met with special military honors.


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[1] Isaiah 7:14.

[2] Luke 1:35.

[3] John 1:14.

[4] 13 c., Yaroslavl.

[5] Matthew 24:15.


 

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‘Mother of God of the Sign’
Yaroslavl, 13 c.

 

“Mother of God the Patriot”
Athos, 21 c.

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