Paradise | Expulsion | Mourning

Russian Altar Door, Late 16th Century

Northern Altar Door (Russia, late 16th century)

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)



Detailed picture and article about a similar Altar Door (in Russian)

This entry was posted in Didactic Icons, Iconography, The Saints and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Paradise | Expulsion | Mourning

  1. Maximus says:

    This is a great resource! Thank you!

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