Christ the Blessed Silence is an iconographic image of the Savior portrayed as a winged angel-like youth with crossed hands against His chest, sometimes dressed in sakkos and a mitre. On the 17th – 18th century icons the Savior is shown with a nimbus with eight-pointed shining.

The icon of Christ the Blessed Silence represents the idea of sacrifice (a young face, crossed hands) and ecclesiastic mission (attire) of Christ. His angel-like face and the wings indicate His ministry making this image kin to that of Jesus Christ the Angel of Great Counsel.

The iconography of Christ the Blessed Silence developed in the 14th – 15th centuries and derived from the decorative art in Greece, Athos and Balkans. In Medieval Rus, an image of Christ the Blessed Silence appeared in the late 15th century. In this iconography, the Savior is portrayed on a fresco-painting of the altar screen in the Dormition Cathederal of Moscow’s Kremlin above the entrance to the credence among the half-figures of the venerable ones (ca. 1482 or 1514-1515). This image was particularly widespread in the 17th century monuments.

The images of Christ the Blessed Silence acquired a special interpretation in the 18th- 19th century in the iconography and applied art of the Old-Believer workshops that produced wood-painted and cast copper medallion icons. The bulk of this production was made by the Vygoleksinsky Community in Pomorye. The icon is also frequently mentioned in the inventories of Nizhny Novgorod hermitages in the mid-19th century. A great deal of such icons that had been confiscated from the Old-Believers was kept in Synod archives in St. Petersburg.

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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