"Saint Nicholas" 16th/17th Century Greek Icon
tempera and gold leaf on wood panel
7 1/4" x 10 1/2"
#3200 (on back)
On the back of this icon, a label identifies it as "Saint Athanasios, Macedonia." However it is incorrectly identified. This icon actually depicts Saint Nicholas, one of the most venerated miracle-working saints. "Macedonia" on the label likely means it was originally purchased from there or in the area.
Saint Nicholas, also known as Nicholas of Myra, is one of the most well known and popular saints. Peasants said that when God grew too old and died, Nicholas would take over. When the Tartars attacked Mozhaisk, he appeared in the air above the attackers, sword in hand, and saved the city. He healed the blind, saved the drowned, and exorcised Demons. He is the patron saint of Russia, travelers and seafarers. He is usually depicted holding the Gospels, flanked on one side by the Mother of God and on the other by Jesus. However, in this icon he is depicted standing alone. In iconography, he is shown
"...in episcopal vestments, wearing a cross adorned omphorion, giving benediction and holding the Gospel. The firmness of the face, the high, furrowed forehead, the large concentrating eyes accentuated by thick eyebrows, and the short beard represent Nicholas as a stout defender of the Christian faith against heresy, as well as an exorcist and healer." (Tradigo, 2004)
A nobleman fallen on hard times had no dowry for his 3 daughters. Hearing of their despair, Nicholas dropped a bag of coins in one of the girl's windows at night. The next night he repeated the act in another girl's windows. The third night, he found all the windows locked, so he threw money down the chimney, where it fell into the girls' stockings drying there. He is beloved by children and known as Nicholas the Miracle Worker.
Tradigo, A. (2004) Icons and Saints of the Eastern Orthodox Church. Translation: Sartarelli, S. 2006 edition.
Los Angeles, California: Getty Publications, J. Paul Getty Museum. p.308-9