The holy forefather Seth is the third son of Adam and father of Enos. Seth is the father of humankind and one of the ten Antidiluvian Patriarchs and Prophets.

According to Genesis, after the killing of Abel by his brother Cain, “Adam knew his wife again; and she bore a son, and called his name Seth: For God, said she, has appointed me another child instead of Abel, whom Cain slew” (Genesis 4: 25). Adan was 130 years old when Seth was born. The Bible also says that Seth fathered Enos at the age of 105. “And all the days of Seth were nine hundred and twelve years: and he died” (Genesis 5: 8).

In Russian medieval art the forefather Seth was portrayed as an old or middle-aged man among the Old Testament forefathers and prophets. According to tradition, he is shown wearing a chiton, himation and sandals, often holding a scroll in his left hand. For example, on a fresco in the Church of the Savior on Ilyin Street painted by by Theophanes the Greek in 1378 he is portrayed as an old man, while on the mural painting by Dionysius (1502-03) in the Nativity of the Theotokos Church in the St. Pherapontus Monastery he is depicted as a middle-aged man. Since the 16th century the icons depicting the Old Testament forefathers with scrolls in hands have been placed in a separate forefather row of the iconostasis. The earliest example of such images is a 1600 icon of the Saint Forefather Seth from the iconostasis at the Trinity Cathedral of the St. Sergius of Radonezh Lavra.

The holy forefather Seth is commemorated on the Sunday of the on the Sunday of the Holy Forefathers and Fathers.

Zhanna G. Belik,

Ph.D. in Art history, senior research fellow at the Andrei Rublyov Museum, custodian of the tempera painting collection.

Olga E. Savchenko,

research fellow at the Andrei Rublyov Museum.


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