Mother of God of Mount Kikko

Publish date 15-02-2023

by Chiara Dal Corso

It is an icon that has remained hidden for centuries. Today we can see it in different versions that were born from the original model and spread throughout the Orthodox world: Sinai, Mount Athos, Bulgaria, the Balkans, Russia. We also find it in numerous icons in the West, especially in Italy.

she is a Mother of God with the baby Jesus in her arms. she is of the model of tenderness, for the sweet touching of the two faces, but she has some peculiarities. Meanwhile, the child is sitting, or rather almost lying down in an "uncomfortable" position which forces him into body tension. The head resting on the right shoulder, the open arms resting on the mother, who supports him, the legs bent and almost crossed often uncovered, the bare feet place the Child in a position very similar to the one he will have on the cross (and in some icons of the deposition).

In the right hand, supported by the hand of the Mother, the scroll of the Word, which when it is not closed shows the passage from Luke which quotes Isaiah, the beginning of Jesus' preaching: «The spirit of the Lord is on top of me; for this he anointed me and sent me to bring good news to the poor" (Lk 4:18). This is how once again in a single icon we find the whole life of Jesus: from his birth, to his infancy, to his public life, up to his passion and resurrection. The royalty of the clothes, the background and the gold lights that illuminate and embellish the clothes of both speak to us of the latter.

He tells us how the Mother was always, in every moment of her life, completely united to Christ, completely abandoned like him in the Father's Will, so much so that she could be his support, comfort and support, of consolation. She who most of all knew and shared the heart of Jesus, his thoughts, his most intimate pains and desires because united in the same will, inseparable from the love of the Father and of the Son, inseparable from the presence of the Spirit, she who is full of grace, all holy.

The prototype is wrapped in a legend that leads it back to one of the three icons of the Virgin painted directly by Saint Luke. It is said that it had been kept for centuries in Egypt and then brought and hidden in Constantinople until 1082 , the year in which it was donated by the then emperor to the monk Isaiah who had built the monastery dedicating it to the Mother of God in Kikko, Cyprus.

And she has remained there ever since. It seems that the icon, having arrived in Cyprus, caused numerous wonders, attracting a great many local and foreign pilgrims to visit and pray in the sanctuary. From the end of the 1700s, it is said that it was covered by a silver and gold riza to protect it and then largely hidden by a brocade that descends in front of it into the niche where it is kept, so much so that since then it has no longer been possible to see it.< br/>
And yet even in this way the faith can be handed down, with the mystery around an image that reminds us, after centuries and centuries, that God created for himself a mother who corresponded with all of herself to the his Love, so as to become his rest and his paradise on earth.

Chiara Dal Corso
NP November 2022

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