Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Mary Three Hands

Hubby and I went to the Russian Museum of Icons, again.  This time I was impressed by the Icon known as Mary Three Hands.

Here is the story.  The pope at the time of St. John Damascene was afraid that the people were worshipping their beautiful icons, instead of God.  So he ordered all the icons to be burned.  St. John Damascene wrote a defense saying that the icons are not worshipped.  The icons are venerated and only God is worshipped.  The icons are used to bring God to mind.  Icons are more than religious pictures.  They're catechesis, and even history because some were made to celebrate military victories or some other celebratory occasions.  St. John Damascene wrote letters to everybody he thought necessary to change the pope's mind.  He made such a fuss that his writing hand was cut off.

St. John Damascene prayed to God, in front of an icon of the Theotokos, and she restored his hand.  In honor of the restoration of his hand, St. John Damascene had a silver hand made to commemorate the hand.  This icon tells this story.  Notice that Mary has three hands, one of them silver.  Note that it's hands, not arms.

St. John Damascene is considered one of the last Fathers of the Church.  He was also declared a doctor of the church in the nineteenth century.