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January 22, 2013
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The Theotokos of Jerusalem by Theophilia The Theotokos of Jerusalem by Theophilia

The Theotokos of Jerusalem
January 23rd 2013
Watercolor, ink
8.5 inches by 11 inches

The King looked up, and what he saw
Was a great light like death,
For Our Lady stood on the standards rent,
As lonely and as innocent
As when between white walls she went
And the lilies of Nazareth.

One instant in a still light
He saw Our Lady then,
Her dress was soft as western sky,
And she was a queen most womanly—
But she was a queen of men.

~ The Ballad of the White Horse by G.K. Chesterton

“Blessed are you, daughter, by God Most High, above all the women on earth. Your deed of hope will never be forgotten by those who recall the might of God.” ~ Judith 13:18-19


Hurray first art piece of 2013! And I finally got around to finishing this picture! I had sketched a little thumbnail for it months and months ago (probably early 2012), and I had planned on finishing it in October (I even had it sketched out and everything) but I never managed to finish it until now. December got too busy to work on it, and I didn’t manage to finish it for the Feast of the Mother of God on January first, as I’d hoped. So perhaps it is somehow meaningful that I am uploading it on the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade; may Our Lady, Mother of Our Savior and the Hope of the World who became Incarnate in her womb, sanctify the whole world—and all wombs—with His presence. Kyrie eleison.

About the image itself though: Our Lady of Jerusalem is in the Byzantine style of 'Hodegetria' "an iconographic depiction of the Theotokos holding the Child Jesus at her side while pointing to Him as the source of salvation for mankind.” "Hodegetria" is Greek for "She Who Shows the Way." Mary points away from herself to the Christ Child. Jesus holds the a globus cruciger and blesses the viewer with His right hand. In this posture Mary holds the viewer's attention and points beyond herself to the Child in her arms to show that He is "the Way and the Truth and the Life" (John 14:6). In this icon, the Virgin’s hand rests lightly on the Christ Child’s knee, both pointing to Him and showing a tender familiarity with Him. With her other arm she bears Him up. The Child Jesus raises His hand in blessing, and rests His other hand upon a symbol of royalty: the orb. But this is not simply an orb that shows His royal and imperial power; it is the more particular globus cruciger, “the cross-bearing orb” which symbolizes Christ’s reign over the entire universe. I chose not only to symbolize the Earth with the globe, but instead I wanted to make a glassy black orb glittering with stars to represent not only the planet Earth, but the entire universe. The Cross has dominion over all and holds all within its band of love and surmounts all obstacles. I think it most appropriate that this icon depicts Christ with a globus cruciger because Jerusalem was seen as the center or “navel” of the world, both by the Jews in antiquity and by Christians in the Middle Ages. Here, both Virgin and Child look straight out at the viewer with great love and tender protection. The Holy Land is one of the most war-ranged places on Earth may the Theotokos intercede with her Son and God to restore peace to all lands, both from war and from other evils, especially from evils committed against the Unborn.

This is the original image of Our Lady of the Jerusalem:
:rose: [link]
:rose: [link]
:rose: [link]

A man who claimed to have seen the Virgin before in visions said, "The Virgin Mary looks a lot like the one in the icon of the Theotokos of Jerusalem. She is exactly the same. I have seen her many times and I don't know of any other icon resembling her so much.” ~ Elder Paisios the Athonite (1924 -- 1994).


Akathist to Our Lady, Daughter of Zion: [link]

KONTAKION 6 (see Ps. 24:7-10)
The ancient gates of Zion were lifted up, allowing the King of Glory with His Ark to enter the holy City, and foretelling the time when the divine Presence would enter the Handmaiden of God and dwell in her holy flesh. Amazed at such holiness dwelling among men, we royal soldiers sing to her, Alleluia!

IKOS 6 (see Ps. 46)

God our refuge and strength is with us; the God of Jacob is mighty in His City. He is in the midst of her, so that she will not be moved, and He will help her right early. Knowing the Theotokos to be a bulwark of protection for us weak sinners, we cry out boldly to her:

Rejoice, O refuge from our enemies!
Rejoice, you that make our troubles to cease!
Rejoice, O immovable mountain when the waters roar and foam!
Rejoice, O place of peace when the earth begins to quake!
Rejoice, for God came to dwell in the midst of your holy body!
Rejoice, for God is your helper who will not fail!
Rejoice, O intercessor through whom wars cease to the ends of the earth!
Rejoice, O Mother of the Victorious Lord!
Rejoice, O bestower of divine stillness!
Rejoice, you through whom we come to know our God!
Rejoice, you that exalted God in your life!
Rejoice, O humble one through whom God is exalted among the nations!
Rejoice O Theotokos, Virgin Daughter of Zion!


A Brief History of the Image

The Panagia Ierosolymitissa (Most Holy Lady of Jerusalem) is an icon of the Theotokos associated with Jerusalem because the original icon can be found in the empty Tomb of Mary, in the Kidron Valley (along the Mount of Olives) to the east of the Old City of Jerusalem. As to the origin of the icon, one story has it that a nun from the Holy Monastery of St. Mary Magdalene named Tatiana received it in a vision in 1870. One night, in a dream, Tatiana beheld a woman asking the nun to paint her. She obeyed, and as she was painting, the woman’s clothes suddenly began to turn a heavenly gold and a brightness shone about her. The nun realized that she was painting the Mother of God. She awoke and told her superior all that had happened in her dream, but the abbess did not believe her. Tatiana went back to her cell, but saw a bright light emanating from it. She went back to the abbess and brought her there, and they both went into the cell. Inside, the room was perfumed with a beautiful fragrance and a great light was shining from the icon of Our Lady of Jerusalem that was within. The Theotokos told Tatiana later to take the icon to the Tomb of the Virgin by Jerusalem. This kind of miraculous icon is called acheiropoieto (an image “not painted by hands”). ([link]).

:rose: Our Lady of Jerusalem, Virgin-Mother of God, Daughter of God’s Chosen People, Highest Honor of our race, Mother of the Heavenly Jerusalem, All-Holy Temple and Sanctuary of the LORD, Mystical Mount Zion, True Ark of the New Covenant, Burning Bush—Flaming and yet Unconsumed by the Divine Presence within you, All-Pure Lady who bore the Messiah and Redeemer of the World, Queen and Patroness of the Holy Land—pray for us! :rose:

O most holy Lady Theotokos, our God has made you a city set upon a hill, and your light gives light to the world. Like Zion of old, you are our bulwark and protection; like the Jerusalem which is above, you are our Mother, and it is upon your maternal love and intercession that all Christians rely. Trusting in your prayers, we come to you for help: heal the sick, bind up the broken-hearted, lead back those who wander that they may return to the truth and find their home in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. Do not despise the petitions we bring you in our brokenness and sin, but restore us through your powerful prayers. Thus restored, may we finally come to inherit the Kingdom of your Son, and to stand before His throne with rejoicing on the Last Day, ceaselessly giving thanks to God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.

Add a Comment:
RainbowMarimo Featured By Owner Nov 8, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Your icons look so modern! I love your style :)
Theophilia Featured By Owner Nov 8, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Thank you!!! :aww:
BlackPollo Featured By Owner May 8, 2014
Awesome art. Food for my soul.
Theophilia Featured By Owner May 13, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Awwwww, thank you! :meow:
grubbeolof Featured By Owner Feb 2, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
i am not sure if i like the concept of this modern style ikon. but i think it looks nice
Theophilia Featured By Owner Feb 3, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Well, if you're interested I could explain my philosophy about that to you.

Thank you! God bless! :hug:
grubbeolof Featured By Owner Feb 3, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
yes please. that sounds interesting. please do. 

Lord have Mercy upon us.
Theophilia Featured By Owner Feb 8, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I think G.K. Chesterton (in his book on St. Thomas Aquinas) describes it very aptly:

First, it must be remembered that the Greek influence continued to flow from the Greek Empire; or at least from the centre of the Roman Empire which was in the Greek city of Byzantium, and no longer in Rome. That influence was Byzantine in every good and bad sense; like Byzantine art, it was severe and mathematical and a little terrible; like Byzantine etiquette, it was Oriental and faintly decadent. We owe to the learning of Mr. Christopher Dawson much enlightenment upon the way in which Byzantium slowly stiffened into a sort of Asiatic theocracy, more like that which served the Sacred Emperor in China. But even the unlearned can see the difference, in the way in which Eastern Christianity flattened everything, as it flattened the faces of the images into icons. It became a thing of patterns rather than pictures; and it made definite and destructive war upon statues. Thus we see, strangely enough, that the East was the land of the Cross and the West was the land of the Crucifix. The Greeks were being dehumanised by a radiant symbol, while the Goths were being humanised by an instrument of torture. Only the West made realistic pictures of the greatest of all the tales out of the East. Hence the Greek element in Christian theology tended more and more to be a sort of dried up Platonism; a thing of diagrams and abstractions; to the last indeed noble abstractions, but not sufficiently touched by that great thing that is by definition almost the opposite of abstraction: Incarnation. Their Logos was the Word; but not the Word made Flesh. In a thousand very subtle ways, often escaping doctrinal definition, this spirit spread over the world of Christendom from the place where the Sacred Emperor sat under his golden mosaics; and the flat pavement of the Roman Empire was at last a sort of smooth pathway for Mahomet. For Islam was the ultimate fulfilment of the Iconoclasts. Long before that, however, there was this tendency to make the Cross merely decorative like the Crescent; to make it a pattern like the Greek key or the Wheel of Buddha. But there is something passive about such a world of patterns, and the Greek Key does not open any door, while the Wheel of Buddha always moves round and never moves on.

To try and put it plainly and simply, I think most traditional icons don't do what they are supposed to do. Icons are meant to be a window into heaven. When the iconoclast controversy erupted in the East it was because the people destoying icons said that people could not depict God, because God is a spirit. The orthodox (and I use small "o" to indicate not just the Eastern Orthodox, but all Christians holding to orthodox and true teachings about Christianity) view was that we could depict Christ because of the Incarnation. God actually really DID become a man, and so we could depict him materially. The problem with most icons, I think, is that they reduce Christ and the saints and angels to mere abstractions. Highly symbolic and oftentimes very beautiful abstractions, but abstractions nonetheless. As Chesterton says, they become, in a sense, "anti-incarnational."

I think that's a real problem. I like the symbolism of the colors and postures and clothing--and I think that that is absolutely beautiful. However, a lot of icons are very, very ugly, especially the faces. Like, creepy ugly. So much so that I find it incredibly distracting. As an artist interested in sacred art, I want to find a happy medium between the rigid, stern, highly symbolic and colorful icons, and the banal, insipid, over-sentimental (and maybe occasionally "over-realistic") religious art. A medium between this (… and this (…. I believe there is medium between that. I think you can have something profoundly theological and symbolic, as well as realistic, beautiful, high, and solemn. Something like:… and… and… and… and….

I hope that gives you some idea of how I approach art. ;-)
KanchanCollage Featured By Owner Oct 17, 2013   Traditional Artist
So lovely!
Theophilia Featured By Owner Oct 18, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Thank you!
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