Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem

Icon at the Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem

A famous variation of the Synaxis of the Mother of God is found in an icon at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. The image is usually cropped to show the mouth of the cave and the holy family inside, and is widely shared at this time of year. The full image shows that the rest of the icon depicts the Nativity hymn “What shall we offer Thee…” as in Synaxis icons. Interestingly, here “the wilderness” is shown as a female ascetic, similar in appearance to Mary of Egypt.

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