Our Lady of Korsun Icon

In every icon, Christ is the center and the subject.  Careful observing makes that very clear in this icon, Our Lady of Korsun, which is  my favorite image to pray with.  I love the tender, pensive sorrow of the expression and gesture of the Theotokos, the reassuring blessing and comfort of the Lord. The image glows with love and compassion.  Dating back to the 16th Century, this icon was used for household devotions rather than formal church liturgy.

At first glance, it might appear that this icon is about Mary, the Mother of God. After all, the figure of Mary is much larger, and her face is the literal center point of the icon.    However, every element of the composition points to the Child Jesus as the  true center, the focal point, the main focus of this icon.  Our eyes naturally follow along lines, and both line–and color– draw our eyes to the Face of God.

Mary’s entire head inclines towards the Christ Child.  Her right hand points to Him as the Way, the Truth, and the Life.   The angle of her lips and eyes are towards Him, as is the line of her chin.

The outline of Mary’s headscarf, and the dark lines within it, draw the eye from the lower left corner up and over towards the Child.  The outline of her halo likewise leads to the Child.  The gold trim of her scarf zig-zags up and around towards Him, thinner edge lines at each fold of the trim also direct the eye that direction.  The part of her dark colored sleeve on her left hand forms a point leading towards Jesus, as does the sweep of His own sleeve.  Even the partially shown cross inscribed on His own halo points towards Him.  The gold trim at her throat swoops in a gentle curve in His direction, the lines joining with the hand to point to the Lord.

There is a cluster of details among the simpler larger shapes:  Jesus’ curls, her fingers, His small hand raised in blessing.  The complexity of the details draws the viewer’s eye from the large simple areas to His face.  Even the two saints that I added in the border bow to Him.

The colors lead the eye to Jesus as well. The bright white of his garment serves to attract the eye to Him.  The darker reds of Mary’s garments form large shapes which flow towards and point to Him.  The brightness of gold encircles him.  There is no doubt whom this icon is intended to venerate.

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, Catholic icons, Icon, Iconography, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

26 Responses to Our Lady of Korsun Icon

  1. paroland says:

    Kathy,This is absolutely beautiful!!!! I am so proud of you!! How large is this?? I am amazed at the prayer that went into creating something so beautiful. With Spiritual meaning for every detail. The faces are so beautiful!! & the baby is so lovingly looking at His mother!!! Beautiful!! Thank You, Patty

    • reinkat says:

      Thank you, Patty, so good to hear from you. I appreciate your comments. The icon is approximately 20X24 inches, fairly good size for me!

    • Becky Hoover says:

      This Magnificence art work of OUR LADY OF KORSUN has brought me “HOPE” when I needed it.Thank you and MAY GOD BLESS you and continue to GUIDED BY OUR LORD!

      • reinkat says:

        Thank you, and God bless you as well.
        Sometimes I wonder why I do this–both iconography and blogging–then a comment like yours comes along and lifts me up.

  2. SR says:

    “Ditto” on the “absolutely beautiful!!!! I loved the way you explained it all, it gave such a deeper meaning to me, for this icon. Because of this post, I think I will see every “icon” in a different light, and look for a “deeper meaning.” Job well done, my friend, job well done!! God Bless, SR

  3. lilyboat says:

    This itself is a beautiful form of prayer. This is so beautiful. You are such an artist!

  4. lilyboat says:

    Could I use this image with full credit, of course, along with my prayer post? Please let me know! I love this work so much. 🙂 thank you.

    • reinkat says:

      Thank you, lilyboat, for your comment and support. I am glad that this image touches your heart. It is my personal favorite, and I pray with it often.
      You may certainly use it with your prayer post.

  5. it took me a long time to finish reading your post since I kept going back and forth to the icon to look at everything you pointed out. I didn’t want to miss a single detail. Again, beautiful!

  6. Pingback: Smile, Live, Love, and Pray | lilyboat

  7. Biltrix says:

    Beautiful icon and explanation. Here’s an observation of mine, which may just be my reading into it. I believe I see the divine birth represented in the juxtaposition of the halos.

    On following the lines of the halos (hers pointing us to his, as you mentioned), I cant help but notice that, while both halos are distinct, the Christ-child’s halo is somewhat contained with in the mother’s, yet it breaks her halo and seems to be coming out of it, as if proceeding from the womb.

    The cruciform lines on the Christ-child’s halo and the fact that it is overlaid on Mary’s halo also indicates Christ’s divinity, which was Mary did not share, although the intimacy portrayed through their postures and gestures contained within the halos suggests that she does participate in it somehow through the grace bestowed on her through her son — ultimately through the redemption of his cross.

    The beauty in it for me is “felt,” beyond what eye or speculative analysis can give us. While contemplating these things and returning to the icon to observe them, I feel a special peace that only comes through prayer. That’s hard to explain or describe — hence, we have the icon which subtly illustrates these things to the soul without words.


    • reinkat says:

      Thank you, Biltrix, for that beautiful insight and reflection. I had not thought of that, and it brought a new depth and dimension to my icon prayertime tonight. God bless you.

  8. Thank you for this wonderful icon. Every icon that you paint is a blessing from God for you who paint it and for us who view it. This icon, however, is especially prayerful and meaningful to all that pray with it. Thanks again for being an instrument of God through which you share His truth, goodness, and beauty!

  9. francisca leighton says:

    thank you for painting a so beautifull icon, the divine tenderness… and the time of your blog, is a good place of the web to be.

  10. geloruma says:

    Hi Reinkat,
    love this – could you explain the reason for the presence of St. Paul and John the Baptist please?

    • reinkat says:

      It was typical for iconographers to put a saint or angels in the borders. The border represents the “world” and the inner part of the icon, “heaven”. sometimes the donor of the icon was put there, or his patron or name-sake saint. They worship Jesus from their life here on earth. Occasionally Jesus appears there, flanked by His mother and John the Baptist, as part of the theology of God’s incarnation on earth. I chose St. Paul and St. John the Forerunner/Baptist because one came before Christ to announce His presence and pave the way, and the other came after to spread the Good News of the Gospel.

  11. geloruma says:

    Thanks for the explanation about your choice of saints, that makes sense…

  12. reinkat says:

    Reblogged this on reinkat and commented:

    Our Lady of Korsun is a beautiful image, simple and tender. It became popular as a private devotional image in the 1500s, painted by the iconographers of the Isle of Crete. I have written this image before–and written about it as well. I am reblogging it below, to explain the symbolism and other details about the icon. This latest version has just been completed. It is tiny, only 6×6 inches.

  13. Janice Lee says:

    How do I order this icon?

    • reinkat says:

      Hello Janice,
      I do not make reproductions of my icons. Each one is handpainted and prayed over individually. If you want to commission an original icon, let me know, and I will get back to you.

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