Icon: Nicholas of Mozjaisk

Number: A305 Period: 16th century
Name: Icon: Nicholas of Mozjaisk Size: 38,2 x 33 cm
Origin: Russia Price: sold

No saint is as popular, either in the East or the West, as the miracle worker St. Nicholas. He was Bishop of Myra in Asia Minor, and is believed to have lived in the 4th century. Nicholas can be recognised from his short beard and his high forehead, a sign of great wisdom.

A well known saying in Old Russia was, ‘If God dies,we’ll make Nicholas God’. People believed that Nicholas understood human weakness better than any other saint. He defended them against every injustice and protected them. He also protected travellers if they got into difficulty. He became the patron of countless churches, professions and communities. He is present in almost every icon corner of a Russian house because he is also considered to be the patron saint of men.

Many icons of Nicholas were believed to be capable of working miracles and were given the name of the place where they were venerated, such as Nicholas of Mozjaisk.

This type originated in a miracle that is said to have ocurred when Tartars attacked the city of Mozjaisk. St Nicolas appeared in the air above the attackers, sword in the hand, and saved the city.

Here Nicholas is shown full length holding a sword in his outstretched right hand and a model of the city of Mozjaisk with the cathedral in his left hand. He wears a white stole with dark crosses. Over his blue vestment, he wears a beige mantel with white and gold designs. He stands on a rose pedestal between two pillars and under a red arch. The background has a green decorative pattern in the shape of clouds.

As in most depictions of Nicholas, Christ is shown presenting him with the Gospels and the Mother of God presenting him with the Bishop’s stole (omofor).

During the First Council of Nicaea, Nicholas is supposed to have boxed Arius’s ears, because he called into doubt the divinity of Christ. The emperor and the bishops present wanted to dismiss Nicholas from his office of bishop, but the Mother of God and Christ took up Nicholas’s cause and gave him back the attributes of his bishop’s office.

This icon is from the icon collection of Otto-O’Meara and was published in a 1928 catalogue of an auction house in Brussels.


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