Publish date 30-03-2022

by Chiara Dal Corso

Jesus represented as a child but with a young, not childlike face. Beardless, but with a high and spacious forehead which in the iconography indicates Wisdom. Child but very wise, therefore, defenseless and weak but God himself, the Creator of the universe. In fact he is dressed like the Pantocrator, with himation and chiton only which here are orange covered with a ray of golden threads that illuminates his whole body, a symbol of the uncreated light of God's grace, of which he himself is the source. Also, like the Pantocrator, he often holds the scroll of the Book in his hand - he is the Word of God - and blesses with his right hand. Other times (like here) he instead has both his arms outstretched, as a sign of welcome towards all humanity, and both hands in blessing. The origin of this typology can be found in that of the Virgin of the Sign (of which we have already spoken), where the Child is inserted in a large golden disc placed between the breast and the womb of the mother, who in turn keeps her arms open. and facing upwards in an attitude of prayer. Jesus represented in this way is not yet born. The icon is in fact called "Virgin of the sign", because it represents the prophecy of Isaiah which says: "the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold: the virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, whom she will call Emmanuel" (Is 7 , 14). Emmanuel means God - with - us.

Even when we find him alone, sometimes only his face, sometimes half-length in the same position, sometimes full-length sitting on the throne, child but with an adult face, we know that he is not just a child that we see, but it is the mysterious face of God, eternally young and old at the same time, incorruptible and infinitely rich and willing to the most extreme poverty, to sacrifice himself to save his children. This is also a Eucharistic icon, because in Mary we see the model of a creature who became a womb, a home, for her Creator as we can do when we receive Jesus in the Eucharist. He is the infinite God who makes himself so small that he shrinks inside a woman's womb. Almighty God who becomes weak, defenseless, in need of care and attention. This is the God with us who, in order not to scare us, limits himself to the point of lowering himself to the ignominious and very painful end that the most "rejected" by society could do. A God who wants to live our needs and daily life with us, like a true friend. He continues to knock on our hearts, waiting for us to make a place for him, and, as the Eucharist still shows us today, he is helpless, humiliated, continually surrendering himself to our hands, to our attention.
Merry Christmas.

Chiara Dal Corso
NP December 2021

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