The June Menaion Icon

The Menaion Icon for June (Muscovite, 17th Century)

The Menaion Icon for June (Muscovite, 17th Century)

The word Menaion (Gr: Μηναίον; Slavonic: Минея) comes from the Greek word meaning “of the month”. It is used to describe a way of grouping together liturgical texts, prayers and stories based on the order of Saints’ days and other feast days in the Church calendar.

A Menaion Icon is similar in that it is a pictorial grouping together of Saints and feasts, usually in rows, according to their order in the Church calendar. Menaion icons started to appear in Byzantium around the time of emperor Basil II (963-1025).

The June Menaion Icon

June Menaion (Минея июнь)

The icon above is from Russia and dates to the 17th century. It shows in four rows the Saints and Feasts associated with the month of June (click on the image above to see the full-sized picture). The Saints and Feasts shown are by no means comprehensive, but are chosen according to their importance to the parish who owned the icon; because of this different Menaion Icons will not be identical in their list of Saints.

The Saints and feasts depicted are inscribed on the icon in Slavonic, with Cyrillic numerals (in red circles) used to indicate the feast day, though the writing is not easy to read in the picture used.

Some of the Saints and Feasts shown on the First row include: Martyr Justin the Philosopher (Jun 1); St Nicephorus, Patriarch of Constantinople (Jun 2); St Bessarion the Wonderworker of Egypt (Jun 6); Martyr Theodore the General (Jun 8 is the feastday for the translation of his relics).

Second row includes: Holy Martyrs Alexander and Antonina (Jun 10); Venerable Onuphrius the Great and Peter the Athonite (Jun 12); Prophet Elisha (Jun 14) and Prophet Amos (Jun 15).

Third row includes: The Holy Martyrs Manuel, Sabel and Ishmael, Persian emissaries (Jun 17); Martyr Methodius, bishop of Patara (Jun 20); Martyr Agripinna of Rome (Jun 23) and the Nativity of John the Baptist and Forerunner (Jun 24)

Fourth Row includes: Virgin Martyr Febronia of Nisibis (Jun 25); David the Dendrite (Tree-Dweller), of Thessaloníki (Jun 26); The Holy Glorious Leaders of the Apostles Peter and Paul (Jun 29); The Synaxis of the Holy Twelve Apostles (Jun 30).

Looking at an Orthodox calendar (see link below) along with an icon such as this, and remembering that the Saints are grouped roughly in date order, helps to identify who is who.

Cyrillic Numerals (used in Russian Icons to indicate dates and often the year an icon was painted)

List of Saints from the Prologue from Ochrid, including modern Menaion icons in English

More about the Menaion


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