The icon of Saint Mary and baby Jesus follows the same structure and positions Saint Mary holding Baby Jesus on her lap. However, this time, I begin with an icon from a Syrian monastery named Saint Mary’s Monastery. Monks who reside in the Monastery, painted this icon on the marble wall of the Monastery- not on regular wood.
To see Baby Jesus in this icon, reminds us that our God has three in one. So while God was incarnated as a Baby boy, He was still God. Also the way that Baby Jesus is cradled with Saint Mary is a humble expression that His incarnation could not occur without her. Truly, Syrian’s Monastery deliberately wanted to illustrate Baby Jesus being more than ‘cute’ or ‘adorable’, but ‘Divine’ and ‘Humble’.
Turning to the traditional Coptic depiction of the icon, Saint Mary has the backdrop of gold to give her praise for her part in our God’s incarnation into Man. Both icons are similar in emphasising our Orthodox Church belief that our God was incarnate as Man but still God at the same time. This belief is foundational to our faith, for without it, we subconsciously follow the wrong Arian belief that thinks that God and Jesus were separate.
In closing, these two beautiful icons clearly served an intricate and timeless purpose. May you and I live to not only pray, but to also learn in understanding our Church icons.