Forgiveness Sunday is the last day before the Great Fast of Lent, and the day which commemorates Adam and Eve’s expulsion from paradise. For this day, I offer a picture of the northern altar door from a late medieval Russian church, divided into three related images. Other examples of Russian altar doors (side-doors) with the same pattern exist.
At the top is “Abraham’s Bosom” (Лоно Авраамово), the place where the righteous dwell, flanked by Isaac and Jacob.
In the centre is an equally-sized sphere showing Adam and Eve’s temptation, then expulsion from the Garden of Eden (Изгнание из рая). An angel is shown driving them out, whilst a fiery, sword-wielding cherubim stands above the gates.
And at the bottom is the result of man’s exile: the grave. Numerous monks are shown mourning over the grave of their brother.
We were expelled of old, O Lord, from the Garden of Eden, for wrongly eating from the tree.
But, O my God and Savior, You once again have restored us through Your Cross and Your Passion.
Thereby, O Master, fortify and enable us purely to finish Lent and to worship Your holy resurrection, Pascha our saving Passover, by the prayers of Your Mother.
(Matins prayer for Forgiveness Sunday)