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Icon of the Mother of God The Burning Bush

On September 17th (the 4th by the old calendar) the Church celebrates the icon of the Mother of God “The Burning Bush.”

“The Burning Bush”

One of the Old Testament images of the Mother of God was the burning bush – the bush which the prophet Moses saw burning yet not being consumed by the flames. This bush signified the immaculate conception of Jesus Christ by the Holy Virgin. This concept gave rise to the icon “The Burning Bush.” The icon is greatly venerated by the Russian people, who believe that it protects the homes of the faithful from fire. This icon has shown great power in saving people during lightning storms and fires, and in saving homes from burning flames. For this reason the faithful keep such an icon in their homes, pray before it during violent storms, while in case of a fire they bring it out to quench the flames. “The Burning Bush” is represented in the form of an octagonal star surrounding the Mother of God. The star consists of two quadrangles. One of them is painted red to represent the color of flames, while the other is painted green as a symbol of the mystic bush. In the corners of the icon there are the four symbols mentioned in the Apocalypse: the man, the lion, the calf, and the eagle; and also the Archangels, with the symbols which church tradition attributes to them: Michael with the flaming sword, Raphael with the urn, Uriel with the staff, Selaphiel with the censor, Barachiel with the bunch of grapes, and Gabriel with the branch of glad tidings. Sometimes a ladder is placed in the arms of the Holy Virgin besides the Holy Infant, with its upper end leaning against the Theotokos’ shoulder – a symbol of Her having elevated mankind from earth to heaven.

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