The Godmother Eleusa, an iconographic version of depicting the Mother of God with the Divine widespread in Byzantine and Russian art.This iconographic version can be called “the Godmother Caressing”. The Godmother is depicted waist-length but sometimes full-length or enthroned.With one hand the Godmother holds the Divine Child, the other hand is raised towards Him in a praying gesture.The Divine Child standing on His Mother’s lap or sitting on Her arm embraces Her with His both hands and presses His cheek against Hers.The Divine Child may be at the right or at the left of the Godmother.

Similar depictions have been known since the V11 century,for example the fresco of the Church Santa Maria Antiqua in Rome of 650.In the X1-X11 centuries this iconographic version assumed a special importance.In the opinion of O.E.Etingof, caressing the Divine Child by the Godmother was interpreted as a natural depiction of the human nature of Jesus Christ and as a foreboding of His martyrdom, In the opinion of Kondakov, the major motive of the iconography Eleusa is a quiet sorrow of the Godmother at the thought of the Saviour’s martyrdom.Besides, the Mother’s love for the Divine Child could symbolize the unity of the Godmother Church with Jesus Christ.The Byzantine art of the X1-X11 centuries created a few renowned icons in this iconographic type. Among them-are the miracle-working icon of the Vladimir Mother of God. In Russia similar icons were widespread.For example, at the end of the X1V century a painter of the Theophanus the Greek’s school created the miracle-working Don icon of the Mother of God.This iconographic version also comprises the worshipped icons of the Korsun-Ephesus icon of the Mother of God, the Theodorovskaya icon of the Mother of God, the Yaroslavl icon of the Mother of God and many others. 


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