Pentēkostē: The Icon of Holy Trinity

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Pentēkostē: The Icon of Holy Trinity

The festival of Pentecost is of Old Testament origin. It was celebrated to commemorate the giving of the law on Mount Sinai- God Making a solemn covenant with his chosen people and at the same time as a thanksgiving for the first fruit of the earth and the new harvest. It was celebrated as the conclusion of seven weeks and fiftieth day after the Passover and so was called the feast of weeks.

On this day of the revelation of law , Holy spirit descended on his apostles and the disciples by the divine providence and in accordance with the savior’s promise . This descent of the Holy spirit was the making of new covenant by God with the new Israel, the Church.

If all the three person of the Holy Trinity take part in the providential action of God , their manifestation in this action differs from one another. On the day of descent of the Holy spirit on the apostles there was manifested the culmination action of third person of Holy Trinity, consubstantial, undivided yet distinct.

For the iconographical expression , the Orthodox Church has adopted the icon of Holy Trinity representing the biblical sense of three men appearing to our for father Abraham by the Oak of Mambre. To show that they belong to the heavenly world , they depicted as three winged Angel. This image, based on a concrete historical event, show the first appearance of God to man, signifying the beginning of the promise of redemption.

In the 5th Book of “Demonstratio Evangelica” by Eusebius of Caesarea , quoted by John of Damascus in the defence of Holy Icon, which states
“God appeared to Abraham by the Oak of Mambre”

We find mention of the fact that an image of Holy Trnity , the form of three Angels , at actual place where three men appears to Abraham, had existed in the  most ancient time. The Image of the Trinity , that corresponds most fully to the teaching of the church is to be found in the greatest works, known as Trinity of Rublev, written by him for the monastery of Trinity and St Sergius. The            Icon shows Abraham’s house , the Oak and a Mountain, but Abraham and Sarah are absent.


The Angel are grouped in the order from left to right, I Believe in God the father, the Son and Holy Spirit. To the impossibility of depicting the first angel depicted with a pink cloak ,this image of the abode of Abraham on top has a symbolic meaning, the house signifies God’s master plan for creation, while the fact that the house towers above the first angel shows him to be the head (or Father) of this creation. The same fatherly authority is seen in his entire appearance. His head is not bowed and he is looking at the other two angels. His whole demeanor – the expression on his face, the placement of his hands, the way he is sitting – all speaks of his fatherly dignity.


The second and central angel corresponds the precision and clarity of coloring , wjose garment has the customary colours of Son of God, with purple and blue cloak. Finally , the principal colour of third angel is Green , which according to the interpretation of St Dionysius the Areopagite, signifies “Youth, fullness of Power”.


This specifically indicates the properties of the third person of the holy Trinity, renewing all things and giving them life. The subtle harmony and relationship of colors of the Icon of the Holy Trinity is one of its chief attractions.
The almost identical faces and figures of the Angel emphasise the equality of the three Divine Person . The Godhead cannot be represented . It is still the historical scene , which symbolically reveals the unity and trinity of the Godhead by showing its triune action in the world. This is why, despite the likeness of Angels, they are not deprived of individuality , the character of each being definitely expressed as regards his action in the World.



Reference: The meaning of Icon , Leonid Ouspensky, Vladmir Lossky, St Vladmir’s Seminary press


Posted on June 3, 2015, in IKONA and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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