Christ the Bridegroom Icon

I have received a great gift.  A friend from Romania sent me a beautiful icon which he painted especially for me.  I am so blessed with this image and his generous friendship.  I love this icon.  It is so beautiful.

It arrived a short while ago.

I was able to find relatively little about the prototype of this image in my reference materials.  I learned that it is used in the Orthodox Church during the first service on Palm Sunday.  It portrays the unselfish, all-giving love of Christ for His bride, the Church.

 The Scriptural base of this image– Matthew 27: 27-31“Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus inside the praetorium and gathered the whole cohort around him.  They stripped off His clothes and threw a scarlet military cloak about Him.  Weaving a crown out of thorns, they placed it on His head, and a reed in His right hand.  And kneeling before Him, they mocked Him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!”  They spat upon Him and took the reed and kept striking Him on the head.  And when they had mocked Him, they stripped Him of the cloak, dressed Him in His own clothes, and led Him off to crucify Him.

You might notice that in this image, compared to Western paintings of the passion of Christ, Jesus is depicted without blood or overt suffering.  The Orthodox tradition does not emphasize the suffering of Christ so much as it does His glory, dignity, and triumph over death.  The teaching is the same, east or west, but the emphasis is different.  As in all icons, the image is quiet and powerful, expressing no emotion but simply being present to the viewer.

Some of my own thoughts:

As I look at this icon, I see Christ humbly enduring mockery and ridicule.  Here in this country, we Christians are not likely to be subjected to physical torture and death, but we are very likely to experience mockery, ridicule, marginalization and rejection.  We face humiliation and exclusion, being the butt of jokes.  These are the forms that martyrdom takes in our culture.  I pray for the grace, courage and strength to remain strong in faith and trust in God.

The Lord’s hands are bound–in the position/gesture that symbolizes humility in icons. He is silent and gives Himself over because of my sins.  His fingers are extended in a gesture of blessing despite what is being done to Him.  His bound hands speak of imprisonment, as well as submission and humility.

It is a sorrowful icon, and my reflections here are gloomy, but it also reminds me to focus on the hopes realized 3 days after Christ’s Passion.   And in that sense, the icon is not a sad image but one filled with hope and a love that cannot be conquered by evil.

The blessing of the icon

The blessing of the icon



My icon has been blessed by my pastor, and occupies a place of honor in my home.  I promised the iconographer that I would pray for him daily, and each day I do indeed lift him up in prayer to the Lord for all of his intentions and needs.


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.
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6 Responses to Christ the Bridegroom Icon

  1. SR says:

    This is beautiful and your reflections on it are as well. Now for one thing how did you meet someone in Romania??? Another thing I want to ask you is, are the Orthodox (for lack of a better term) more into icons, than Roman Catholics are. It seems as if your knowledge of them is more advanced than ours, as I never hear anything about them, in the Catholic Church. Yet, all pictures I see of the Orthodox, there always seems to be an “icon.” How do you know for instances, “the way the hands of Christ are positioned that this means “humility?”

    I love the icon and will probably be back to look at it. I love His face in this one. God Bless, SR

  2. reinkat says:

    Thanks, SR. Let me try to answer your questions. A friend in Romania–was met through blogging. The Internet can be a wonderful thing.

    I studied icons for a long time, and learned that historically, the icon is the art of the ancient, unified church. I think the East and West split apart about 1200 years ago.
    In the most simplistic terms: The West (Roman Catholicism for the most part) moved towards intellectual directions, supporting science and education, etc, in fits and starts. Artistically, they moved toward self-expression, which is totally subjective and thus art served the purpose of decoration.
    The East, the Orthodox, remained a more mystical group in general, and artistically and musically, they kept alive the old chants, liturgies, and use of icons. The icon is an integral part of the liturgy, maybe the way the chalice is part of Mass or the monstrance is part of Benediction. The icon represents the person depicted as being present, in a similar way that you might talk to a photo of a loved one who is far away. Thus, the Orthodox (and some Eastern Rite Catholics) venerate the icons, greeting them as they enter the church. Orthodox churches are literally filled with icons, and the walls and ceilings and areas behind the altar are fully painted.

    The symbolism in the icons is ancient–the crossed hands indicating humility for example. Typically, the hands are crossed over the chest/heart. But Christ’s hands are bound, and the gesture is made lower and in this icon extended into a blessing for the viewer. You might see the crossed hands over the chest when a nonCatholic comes up for a blessing in the Communion line during the celebration of the Eucharist. You might also see it as part of the priest’s gesture during Mass. Our parochial vicar makes this gesture as he bows before the consecrated bread and wine during the Eucharist.
    This same gesture can also indicate silence. Sometimes an icon of a monk is shown this way, as well as an icon of a young Jesus before the beginning of His public life.

    Everytime I research something, I learn more about this rich artistic heritage that both the Catholic and many Orthodox are rediscovering in the last few decades. I welcome comments, observations, and corrections from any of my Eastern brothers and sisters, who grew up with this teaching and tradition.

  3. SR says:

    What do you mean, “a more mystical group in general?” I do not know, the more I learn about the Orthodox from you, the more questions I have, and the more it intrigues me. Thanks so much for taking the time to answer my many questions. God Bless, SR

  4. reinkat says:

    Hi SR, what I mean—from my perspective and in brief—is that Roman Catholics (West) and Eastern Orthodox (East) have virtual identical teachings and doctrine on everything, but emphasize different aspects at times. For example, on Jesus Christ: the West puts a lot of emphasis on Jesus’ humanity, His suffering for us, etc. The East puts a lot of emphasis on His divinity, His glory, and His triumph over death. Neither church denies what the other says, they just stress or focus on different aspects.

    The West has put a lot of teaching and effort into the ideas of knowing God through intellect and reason. St. Thomas Aquinas etc. There is a lot of time spent talking about how we need to behave and treat each other. Social justice, liberation theology, living our faith in politics&workplace, etc

    The East has taught a great deal about the transcendence of God, the mystery of God. Again, neither side is saying anything different, or ignoring aspects of Christianity, they just emphasize differently. The use of icons in the liturgy is to remind people that they are in the presence of God, His holy Mother, and the entire communion of saints when they pray and are in the church.
    So, this influences the way the liturgy has developed (the East uses 4th and 7th century liturgies pretty much unchanged), the words said, and also the way the art expresses the faith and theology.

    so, in that way, I feel that the East has a more mystical approach. Perhaps my understanding isn’t even correct, but that is what I have gleaned.
    According to Websters dictionary, the word “mystical” means “having a spiritual meaning or reality that is neither apparent to the senses nor obvious to the intelligence. Involving or having the nature of an individual’s direct subjective communion with God . . .

    Both East and West have mystics, mystical teachings, but they are spoken about more/differently.

    The East and West are truly brothers and sisters, and as St. Pope John Paul II said, to know them both is to breathe with both lungs.

  5. SR says:

    Okay, gotcha!!!! Thanks so much for explaining. When you said, “St. Thomas Aquinas” that placed it all in perspective for me! That was the hardest book I have ever read!!!! In fact I got very little out of that book, not because it was not good, but I would have to go and read then re-read a passage. Maybe it was “operator difficulty” of my understanding.

    I do love however what you said regarding the teachings of the Orthodox. Though I love the Catholic Church and always will, sometimes I believe we do get a little too “educational.” At times I do not think things are thought through enough. Like when I was on the council, I had to go to an educational program for “sexual abuse,” which is now required before you can serve on anything in the Church, called, “EIM.”

    It was extremely hard for me to watch the video, brought back a lot of memories I had just as soon have forgotten and went on for hours. The things of it was, I came out of it with nothing, knowing no matter how much education they put out there, it happens, it is the best kept “secret” in the world, and no amount of teachings or videos are ever going to change that. Yes, it is more “exposed” now because of the “media” then it was when I was a child, but I knew a child molester could be sitting in that room with us, and no one would be any the wiser. So to me, it was all a waste of a Saturday morning. If adults do not have enough sense to report it to the police when it happens, a video is not going to change it.

    I do however love what the Church has taught me regarding the “sufferings” of Christ as I really had no clue of it all until I became a Catholic. I think it would help a lot to have some more of the “mystical” side with it. I do not know if there is an Orthodox Church in my area, but I think I will see if there is one close by. I would love to just go at times and visit one, to soak some of the “mystical” up. Thanks so much. God Bless, SR

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