The Holy Virgin the Star Most Bright is an iconographic type representing the Mother of God with the Child. The Holy Virgin with the Infant Christ is depicted against a star – a yellow oval with radiant rays. At the feet of Holy Virgin are kneeling saints in prayer. Between star rays, surrounded by clouds, are fifteen border scenes from the life of the Mother of God and the Savior: the Annunciation, the Meeting of St. Mary and St. Elizabeth, the Nativity of Christ, the Presentation of the Lord, Christ teaching in the Temple (Mid-Pentecost), the Agony in the Garden, the Flagellation of Christ, the Carrying of the Cross, the Crowning with Thorn, the Resurrection of Christ, the Ascension of Christ, the Descent of the Holy Spirit, the Ascension of the Mother of God, the Crowning of the Theotokos. The images of the Mother of God and the Child vary in different iconographic variants – the Holy Virgin can be portrayed either enthroned or standing in a frontal pose. The Infant Child is either seated on His Mother’s hand or stands on Her right hand. In his left hand He may hold a scroll or prayer beads.

The iconographic type of the Star Most Bright first appeared in the late 17th century. It developed under the influence of a very popular and widespread handwritten Star Most Bright Collection. This codex, in the opinion of M.R.Polonskaya, was compiled in Rus in the 17th century. It contained the legends of the Holy Virgin’s miracles, both translated and written by the compiler himself. In this codex, the Holy Virgin is assigned with symbolical epithets deriving from the Old Testament prototypes, New Testament symbols and Apocalypse images. One of the epithets was used as a title for the collection. This collection paid a specific attention to the prayer "Богородице, Дево, радуйся"(Theotokos Virgin, rejoice) and the beads the worshipper used to keep count of the prayers recited.

As an art source for the iconography of the Star Most Bright served a catholic image of the Holy Virgin "Madonna del Rosario" (Maddonna with beads). This image is associated with a catholic rule prescribing to read out the Ave Maria prayer 150 times. According to this rule, before every ten prayers, Pater Noster is being recited, following meditation in the end, called “sacrament”, dedicated to one of the event in the life of the Mother of God. To keep track of the prayers recited, a knotted string and later, beads were used, also known as the Saint Rosary rule. "Madonna del Rosario" includes a depiction of the Holy Virgin with the Child Christ holding beads in his heads, the saints in devotional poses and the scenes illustrating fifteen sacraments - five joyful (the Annunciation, the Meeting of St. Mary and St. Elizabeth, the Nativity of Christ, the Presentation of Our Lord, the Mid-Pentecost),five sorrowful (the Agony in the Garden, the Flagellation of Christ, the Crowning with Thords, the Carrying of the Cross, the Crucifixion) and five glorifying ones (the Resurrection of Christ, the Ascension, the Descent of the Holy Spirit, the Ascention of the Holy Virgin and the Crowning of the Mother of God).

One of the earliest examples of such iconography is a late 17th century icon of the Star Most Bright from the Church of the Nativity of Christ in Balakhna (the Andrei Rublev Museum).


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