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The Spinner Icon of the Mother of God

Commemorated on April 7
On two columns supporting the arch over the altar in the St. Sophia Cathedral, are wonderfully preserved representations of the Annunciation. These Icons are above the level of the iconostasis. On the Northern Column the Archangel Gabriel is depicted, his face turned toward the Theotokos, announcing the news to the Most-holy Virgin. He wears a white khiton bearing three red stripes, or "springs." The stripes fall across his shoulders and on either side, [and he is wearing] gold cuffs. In his left hand is a red lily, while the right is raised, as if in blessing. Around his head a wreath is delineated in red. He wears sandals on his feet. To the left, at head level, there is the Greek inscription: "Archangel Gabriel," and then, going from right to left, the words of the Annunciation, "Rejoice, O thou who art full of Grace, the Lord is with thee."
The Most-holy virgin is depicted on the Southern column. Her clothing includes a long dark purple khiton, a similar head covering, edged with a gold fringe, which is visible at the bottom, falling to her left knee. The khiton is tied with a narrow red cincture. There are gold crosses on her head and on her shoulders. On her wrists are gold cuffs. In her left hand, which is upraised, she holds a scroll of red yarn, from which threads extend to the spindle in her right hand. She is shod in red footwear with gold stripes. The Most-holy Virgin is standing on a gold footstool with dark stripes, which form cruciform decorations about the entire column. A blue mosaic stripe delineates a wreath about her head. On the right side, at face level, there is the inscription, and on the left side there is Greek inscription, laid out in black mosaic, stating "Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word….".
According to ancient Church tradition, three different depictions of the Annunciation to the Mother of God have come down to us: the first depicts the Most-holy Virgin spinning yarn for the veil of the Temple; in the second, she is drawing water from a well; in the third, we see the entire Annunciation as passed on by the Gospel. This depiction of the Annunciation is marvelously fashioned from mosaic, and carries the name "The Spinner."



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