Icon: Pokrov Mother of God
|Name:||Icon: Pokrov Mother of God||Size:||75,5 x 56 cm|
The Pokrov or “Protection of the Mother of God” is a church festival that is celebrated in Russia on October 1st. Its origin lies in the story that in the year 902 the people of Constantinople gathered in the Church of the Vlakhernae (Blachernae), fearing a military invasion; some say the invaders were saracens (muslims), some say a fleet of northerners from what was then called Rus. During the all-night prayer vigil, Андрей Юродивый — Andrei Yurodivuiy — Andrei the “Holy Fool” — supposedly had a vision in which he saw Mary standing in the church, taking off her veil, and holding it over the congregation as a covering sign of her protection. With her were various saints and angels.
Andrei the Holy Fool Andrei (Andreas/Andrew), standing below is pointing out the vision to his disciple Epifaniy (Epiphanios)
There are two odd things about the Pokrov icon: first, it is given far more importance by Russians than by Greeks. Second, it contains scenes some four hundred years apart.
The Pokrov, as already mentioned, is said to have happened in the early 900s. But standing on the dais at lower center is Roman (Romanos) the Melodist, called in Russia Роман Сладкопевец — Roman Sladkopevets — “Roman the Sweet-singer” — who lived in the late 400s-early 500s c.e. His story is that he led the singing in an all-night vigil, but after the others left he was unhappy with his talents, and prayed to have a voice worthy of singing the praises of Mary. He fell asleep in the church and had a dream in which Mary appeared to him and gave him a scroll to eat (that is the scene at bottom right). He awoke, and later again sang in the church, and all were amazed at his voice. He wrote a great many church melodies with words (kontakia).