Russia Religion Subjects Virgin Mary Our Lady of the Dove

Our Lady of the Dove

The Law of Moses stated that the dove was a “clean” bird to be used in sacrificial offerings. On the fortieth day after the birth of Jesus, Mary went to the temple to offer the traditional sacrifice of a lamb and two doves. Being poor, she could only afford a pair of doves (implying that Jesus Himself became the sacrificial lamb).

The image of a dove on an icon symbolises the links between the Old and New Testaments. The first icon in Russia to depict a dove was allegedly brought to the country from Mount Athos by St Arsenius in the late fourteenth century, in honour of the newly founded Monastery of the Blessed Virgin on the island of Konevets in Lake Ladoga.

This icon became the prototype for many other works. Although the composition is based on the Virgin Hodegetria, Jesus is turned away from Mary and holds a dove in one hand.

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