Spiritual developmentChristianity

Icon "The Last Judgment": meaning. Icon of the Last Judgment: description

The icon of the Last Judgment is very important and significant in Orthodoxy. It depicts scenes that will happen after the second coming of Jesus Christ. It is believed that then each person will appear before the judge, and each will receive his own deeds and merits.

Appearance of the plot of the icon and the first images

What can be said about the origins of this story in Christianity? It is believed that for the first time these compositions began to appear on the walls of the temple in the Byzantine Empire until the iconoclastic period. They date back to the fourth century. The first images described the parable of the ten virgins, as well as the separation of goats and sheep (sinners and righteous ones). Only by the eighth century in Byzantium was formed an image, which later became canonical. So the icon of the Last Judgment appeared.

In Russia, these images existed almost from the very beginning of baptism and had a special significance for the Orthodox.

What influenced the appearance of the plot

In many respects, the plot of the Last Judgment icon was taken from the Gospel and the Apocalypse, as well as from other ancient books of Byzantium and Rus, such as: The Word of Palladius Mnich, the Word of Ephraim the Syrian, the Life of Basil the New, etc. The revelations of John the Theologian .

One of the important sources on which the icon of the Last Judgment was written was the revelation of the prophet Daniel. His visions are generally considered significant in Orthodoxy, as described in the corresponding book of the prophet. Some of the motifs from it are taken for the story of the Last Judgment icon, namely those who spoke about the end of the world and the coming of Jesus.

The plot of the icon of the Last Judgment in Russia

In Russia, this plot was first recorded in the 12th century on the walls of the Cyril Monastery, which is located in Kiev. At the end of the same century, the same images appeared in St. George's Cathedral, the Church of the Savior of Nereditsa and the Dmitrovsky Cathedral. And this is not accidental, since it is believed that this particular image affected Prince Vladimir, who initiated the baptism of Rus. This fact is mentioned in The Tale of Bygone Years.

The early icon of the Last Judgment was depicted not only by the court itself, but also by the scenes of the Apocalypse, which later were divided. The first images of the plot did not have clearly fixed moments in certain places of the icon, as, for example, the animals from the prophecy of Daniel. Only by the XVI-XVII century, every detail of the story took its place.

Description of the plot

The very composition of the Last Judgment is very rich in actors and events. In general, the icon "The Last Judgment", the description of which is quite extensive, consists of three registers. Each of them has its place.

Usually in the upper part of the icon is placed the image of Jesus, on both sides of which are the apostles. All of them participate in the trial process. The lower part of the icon is occupied by trumpeting angels, who call all.

Further under the image of Jesus is the throne (Etimasiya). This is a judicial throne, on which can be placed a spear, cane, sponge, gospel. This is an important detail in this composition, which later becomes an independent symbol.

The lower part of the image tells about what will happen to the righteous and sinners who will pass the Last Judgment of God. The icon here is divided. To the right of Christ you can see the righteous who move to Paradise, as well as the Mother of God, the angels and the Garden of Eden. On the left, Christ depicts hell, sinners and demons, as well as Satan.

These two parts of the icon in the settled plot can be separated by a fiery river or serpent. The latter is depicted with a wriggling body through the entire icon, and its tail is lowered into hell. Rings of the serpent are often called by the name of ordeals (fornication, drunkenness, etc.).

Interpretation of the plot

The icon of the Last Judgment, the interpretation of which may seem eerie to someone, has its meaning for believers. According to the Divine plan, the deeds of every person who ever lived on earth will be reconsidered at the Last Judgment, which will be presided over by Jesus Christ, the son of God. This will happen at the time of his Second Coming.

After the trial, a person will have a direct road either to hell or to paradise, according to his actions. It is believed that this is a special moment in the renewal of the world, the soul can forever connect with God or forever go to the devil. However, the essence of the composition is not to intimidate a person, but for him to think about his deeds committed by sins. Also, do not despair and lose hope, you just need to repent and begin to change.

The ancient images of the Last Judgment, which have survived to this day

Up to now, several ancient images have survived, which have survived as a painting in the temples. For example, in Thessaloniki in the church of Panagia Halkeon the painting dates from 1028, at Sinai, in the monastery of St. Catherine, two icons of the Last Judgment have been preserved. Also in London, at the Victoria and Albert Museum, there is an ivory plate with this image, in Venice in the basilica of Torcello a mosaic with this theme is made.

There are also ancient images in Russia. For example, in the Moscow Kremlin of the Assumption Cathedral there is the earliest icon "The Last Judgment" (photo is shown below). Also, such paintings can be found in some churches (they were mentioned above).

Words of saints about the Last Judgment

About the Last Judgment very much is said both in the Scriptures and in the utterances of the saints. Many people kept this image before the eyes to see the consequences of sins and neglect of the spiritual.

St. Theophanes the Recluse spoke of incessant preparation for the Second Coming of the Lord, not thinking about when it would be. He believed that this would happen without fail, but when - it is unknown.

St. John also believed that there was nothing to be told when the last day would happen, but there were terrible omens of an early end. These are various misfortunes and destruction, war and famine. The man himself will change, forget the laws of God. At this time, sins and evil will multiply.

So, all the holy fathers considered it important to remember the second coming and the Last Judgment. The icon with this image visually helped in this, because its composition series is composed in such a way as to see everything clearly and in detail (heavenly bliss of the righteous and infernal torment of sinners).

The Last Judgment in the Paintings of Artists

So, apparently, for believing Christians is a very important composition, which depicts the Last Judgment. The icon and painting on the walls of the temples is not the only one where this theme was shown. It was and is very popular with artists. This is a pretty bright topic, which found its place in painting.

For example, Michelangelo has a fresco performed on this topic. She is in the Sistine Chapel. Although it was the order of the pope, but the painter himself executed it in his own way. It depicts naked bodies, frankly described the anatomy of men. This later even led to conflict.

Also very famous is the triptych of Hieronymus Bosch. This is a very strong picture, which in some way affects the beholder. It is believed that no one, except Bosch, subsequently managed to convey something that none of the living did not see firsthand. The plot in the picture is divided into three parts. In the center is the image of the court itself, on the left is a paradise, and on the right is hell. Each composition is very realistic.

Of course, these are not all the masters of the brush who used the Biblical story of the Last Judgment in their paintings. Very many were inspired by the apocalyptic compositions, after which they tried to create their own vision of this. Not all adhered to biblical moments, showing their imagination. Thus, many variations of the Last Judgment appeared, which were far from the canons.

Image of Vasnetsov's brush

Victor Vasnetsov once created many pictures on religious themes. One of them was the Fresco of the Last Judgment at the St. Vladimir's Cathedral in Kiev, as well as in St. George's Cathedral.

Icon of the Last Judgment Vasnetsov in the Kiev Cathedral appeared first. In writing, the author did not use the already established canons, so the image looks somewhat theatrical, although it is built on the basis of biblical and patristic texts. In the center of the composition is the angel, who holds the scales in his hand. On one side of him are sinners and hell fire, into which they, in fact, fall. On the other side are the praying righteous.

As you can see in the picture, among the sinners are the rich, the kings, the people of the spiritual estate. The author wanted to show this, that before God all are equal in the moment of truth. For all people there will be a fair decision at the last hour. At the top of the image is the Lord himself, who holds the Gospel and the cross. Next to him is the Mother of God and John the Baptist.

The second was painted for the St. George's Cathedral. His plot remained unchanged and, according to many, who saw the picture for the first time, made a stunning impression. It was this painting that had a turbulent history in the times of the Soviet Union. At the decline of his existence, the picture was hardly reconstructed and returned to the old place.

Image of Rublev's brush

Another famous work of the Last Judgment was the painting by Rublev, which is depicted in the Moscow Assumption Cathedral. There were many of his paintings, in addition to this. Many were performed together with Daniel Black. In some details, the author has departed from traditions, especially when the icon of the Last Judgment was written. Rublev portrayed those people who came to court, not suffering at all, but hoping for mercy.

By the way, all the forms on the fresco are very spiritual and sublime. In this difficult time there were too many events that contributed to the revival of man's spirituality.

Thus, the fresco produced a very light impression and carried hope. This led to the fact that a person did not become afraid of the coming trial, but represented his reigning justice. Of course, until our times it has not been fully preserved, but what remains so far is striking in its depth.

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