Monday, 18 November 2013

Marian Monday: The Unfading Bloom


The Unfading Bloom, the Unfading Flower, or the Eternal Bloom, is a Russian icon of Mary, Mother of God. The time of its appearance in Russia is unknown.

On this icon:
  • The Theotokos holds her Divine Son upon her left arm, and in her right hand is a bouquet of white lilies. This bouquet symbolically signifies the unfading flower of virginity and immaculateness of Mary.
  • The Theotokos is shown giving the flowers to her Son; she doesn't hold them as her own ornament. This means that Mary presents her purity solely as an offering to God; she is truly ever-virgin, the Spouse of God the Holy Spirit and Mother of God the Son.
  • Child Jesus is depicted holding a globe on His lap, and His right hand is shown in the classic benediction gesture, referring to His identity as the King of kings and the High Priest.

Lilies as a symbol of purity is widely recognised in both the Eastern and Western Church. This is probably what makes this icon one of the more familiar images to the eyes of Western Church faithfuls.

Alternatively, some copies of the icon depicts the Theotokos holding a rod from which roses and other flowers blossom. This points to a line in the Akathist hymn: "Rejoice, O thou who alone hast blossomed forth the unfading Rose" — in this case, the Rose is Jesus Himself.

Indeed, the Church Fathers as old as the 6th century have long named the Blessed Virgin as the "spotless lily who brought forth Christ the unfading rose", according to a compilation of titles by Sr. Marie Stephen, O.P.

The feast day for this icon is on April 3.


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Hail, O you who alone gave rise to the unfading Rose! Hail, O you who bore the fragrant Apple in such perfume as to be pleasing to the King of All! Hail, salvation of the world, O you, the ever-Virgin! Now and always and for ever and ever. Amen.

3 comments:

  1. I thought it was a Western "icon" for a second there. I know far too little about Russian Orthodoxy. Interesting read :)

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    Replies
    1. I haven't done enough research on Russian iconography, but most Russian icons I've seen seem to have more photorealistic faces compared to Greek icons, so I think that could be one identifying feature :)

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  2. Hello,
    I love the second image in this post, but I can't find where you got the image. Do you recall? I am curious if it is an icon available for purchase. Thank you!

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Any thoughts...?