The Red Corner

We are all made in the image and likeness of God, and each one of us is His icon.  We reflect and witness to His Truth, the Truth of His Incarnation, of His transfiguring grace in every person.

Traditional Orthodox Russian homes had a special icon corner, called the “red corner”, because the word “red” means beautiful in Russian.  The Red Corner was a home altar, where the family stood in prayer each  morning and each evening, where thanks, petitions, and honor were given to Jesus Christ, His mother, and the patron saints of the household.  The icon area was draped with a cloth.  A candle glowed. Upon entering the house, visitors first acknowledged the icons as representatives of God’s presence in the family.  They gave a respectful bow, making the sign of the cross, and sometimes offering a short blessing or prayer, before going on to greet the members of the household. 

It was also the custom, although not displayed here in this reconstructed rural farmhouse in Suzdal, Russia, to have a wall mirror hanging nearby.  This mirror was also draped with a cloth,  in exactly the same manner as the icons.  This served as a reminder that each and every person is the image of God, His icon, His work of art.  The person in the mirror is blessed with the love and grace of the Holy Spirit dwelling within–and is to carry out the work of Christ in his/her life.  The mirror is also a daily reminder that every person encountered during that day is also God’s beautiful icon, to be treated with love, dignity and mercy.

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About reinkat

I am an iconographer, and have been studying Russian/Greek icons since 1995. I'm married with 3 children. I love hiking, camping, animals, my family and church--and icons.
This entry was posted in art, Catholicism, Christian Prayer, Icon, Iconography, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to The Red Corner

  1. Prayer corners/home altars are a beautiful and purposeful tradition; thank you for sharing the picture. I didn’t know the tradition of covering a mirror as an indication of the truth that we, too, are made in the image of God – that is something that we often forget – to our detriment.

    • reinkat says:

      Thanks! I don’t know why more people don’t have a home altar anymore–but it seems that the custom is coming back. There are a lot of seminars and presentations on how to make one, and to use it. It’s all a positive trend.

  2. Biltrix says:

    I need to make myself one of those. What I think I need: time to put it together (including thinking time); proper location; the right icons. I’ll give myself until January to put it together.

    “Red means beautiful in Russian.” I was reading in Jacques Philippe yesterday about the notion of beautiful, at the end of his book Called to Life. He elaborated the Greek etymology association between kalos (beautiful) and kalein (to call). A bit much for me to comment on here. Just my own reflection on it: God’s call’s through beauty and his call is beautiful: personal and unique. So, to reiterate, I’m convinced I need to make my own Red Corner.

    By the way, I like the new cover photo. I really liked the last one too, the one with the finger of God (was the figure Moses, Elijah, or John the Baptist? I want to say Moses).

    • reinkat says:

      I love this: “God calls through beauty and his call is beautiful”. That resonates with me.
      I am so happy that you want to make a Red Corner for yourself. It is good to take your time with it, choose the right images. I find mine growing all of the time, as I add to it. Pretty soon it will be a “Red Wall”. Yet, ironically, I find myself kneeling and praying in front of my studio door instead: I have on the door posters of 3 old Russian images: the Holy Face (With the Golden Hair), Rublev’s Trinity, and the Vladimir Mother of God. I love these icons and they lead me instantly into prayer and contemplation.

      Hey, thank you for the compliment on the header photo-although the present one is a Russian fresco in the St. Petersburg vicinity, the other one, of Elijah, is one of mine. It was a gift to my son.

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