0814 Third Week of Lent
17th cent. 29.5×20.5×2.5cms.
This 17th cent. Church icon has the inscription which literally translates to “The Sacred Way”. Perhaps a closer translation of the sentiment would be “The Way to Salvation”. Its purpose is to demonstrate His Love for mankind by sacrificing His son on The Cross so that mankind can secure eternal life. The Cross is the path to Heaven whose peace and presence is metaphorically shown in the verdant plants that decorate the icon’s periphery.
The icon has a second message unique to Russian Orthodoxy. Throughout Orthodoxy the “ Exaltation of The Cross” is commemorated on Sept. 12th . In Russian Orthodoxy, there is an additional commemoration undertaken during the third week of Lent. It is known as “The Adoration The Cross”. In the same way as when Moses plunged his staff into brackish water of the Marah to turn it to being fresh and drinkable, the “Veneration” is meant to refresh and re-vitalise the congregation as they come to halfway in their Lenten abstentions. The Service is marked by a procession in which The Cross, surrounded by fresh basil, is placed on a tray which is raised and lowered in commemoration of its re-discovery. At the end of the Service the congregation venerate The Cross which remains in the church for a week. The presence of basil is a reminder of the fragrant flowers that were growing on Calvary when The Cross was unearthed in 326. The basil leaves that adorn the icon further strengthen the association between the icon and “The Adoration”.