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» Icons and Holy Cards » The Child Jesus

The Holy Family

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ICM202 8" X 10" ICON ON WOOD


ICM302 10" X 13" ICON ON WOOD



Item Details:

"The Holy Family" icon is beautifully painted in iconographic style, but the composition is from western rather than from eastern Christianity. The young Christ Emmanuel is surrounded in love by Mary and Joseph. The Holy Family serves as an example and a reminder of the importance of family in both human and divine existence.

Wood-mounted icons are on 5/8" ProWood® Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF) with a wood-look foil finish, with tee-slots milled in the back for easy hanging. Icons are finished in classic cherry to replicate the traditional icon red, in keeping with Byzantine tradition. (Ancient icon board edges were frequently coated with red bole, a form of clay). Each mounted icon comes with a descriptive pamphlet explaining the symbolism and history of the image.

Please allow 5-10 business days for orders of 20 or more icons.

Our icon designs are also available as unmounted prints in sanctuary-size enlargements up to 38 inches wide. The latest technology enables enlargement without sacrificing quality. We do not currently have the ability to mount these prints on wood or any other material. You may purchase your own frame from a custom frame shop. Call 800-889-0105 for pricing and ordering.

Image Origins

There are hundreds of variations on the theme of the Madonna and Child in traditional iconography, but Joseph is never included. He appears in the Byzantine composition of the Nativity, but is portrayed sitting in the corner of the picture, looking quite puzzled about his role as Godís foster father. Most conservative Orthodox Christians would not be comfortable with this icon of the Holy Family because Josephís arm is around the Virgin Mary with his hand actually touching her shoulder. The Orthodox tradition has always emphasized the virgin birth of Jesus and Joseph has been relegated to the background. In contrast, Saint Joseph has always enjoyed considerable popularity among western Christians. He played no biological role in the Holy Family, but he was the father in every other sense; the protector, the bread winner, source of love and support to Mary, and the educator of his child. He was also a strong example for us of faith in God, willing to trust in the messages sent to him via dreams. The pattern for this icon is of uncertain origin, probably Russian, and dating from after the time of Peter the Great (eighteenth century) when western Christianity began to influence iconography.

Theology and Symbolism

In these modern times, nontraditional families are becoming more common than traditional ones. Our Heavenly Father has provided for us via the Holy Family an example that relates to both. On the one hand, God found it necessary to provide an earthly foster-father for His Son, affirming that fathers are needed as well as mothers for nurturing children. On the other hand, Mary endured the potential shame and risk of being pregnant before her marriage (Matthew 1:18-19) and many years of life as a widow.

In this beautiful icon of the Holy Family, we see the holiness of the parents and their sense of wonder at their calling. Their heads are inclined together in a posture of mutual support and affection. At the bottom of the picture, three hands touch in unity and love.

Joseph is portrayed as a strong, handsome man, his arms protectively enveloping both Mary and Jesus. His face shows love, but also concern. We can sense his wonder and fear at being called to be the earthly father of the Son of God. Maryís face shows peaceful acceptance of her place as wife and mother. The stars on her robe are symbols of her perpetual virginity. In the upper left corner of the icon, the Greek letters MP ōY stand for Meter Theou, "Mother of God." The Greek letters in the upper right spell out "Saint Joseph."

Jesus is presented to us in a posture of strength. Unlike the adults, He isnít leaning on anyone. He is their center and the center for all humanity. He looks directly into the soul of the viewer, his hand raised in blessing. He wears a royal robe, symbolic of His dominion over all the universe. On his halo, Greek letters omicron, omega, nu, spell out "HO ON." In English, this becomes "Who Am," the name used for God in Exodus 3:14.

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