Icon: Holy Trinity | S-14
Origin Central Russia
Period : 17th century (vrezka)
Size : 31 x 27 cm
Private Collection, The Netherlands

Three angels sit at a richly-prepared table for a meal offered to them by Abraham and Sarah, who are depicted to the left side. The angel at the centre inclines his head to the left. The other angels also bow their heads, and raise their right hands in a gesture of blessing. In the lower right corner a calf is being slaughtered for the meal by Abraham himself (an unusual iconographic detail). In the background, from left to right, are Abraham and Sarah’s house, the oak of Mamre and the rock, all recognizably Christian symbols. The edifice behind God the Father is the House of God, symbolizing his wisdom. The oak above Christ’s head is the Tree of Life, the symbol of his Resurrection and also the wood of the cross. The mountain towering high above the Holy Spirit is ‘the rock of faith’, a traditional symbol of spiritual elevation.

The concept of the Holy Trinity played a central role in religious and daily life for medieval Russians. From the time of Sergei of Radonezh (1314-1392), the Trinity had represented peace, love and the spiritual unity of the Russian people. The feast of the Trinity is celebrated in Russia during Pentecost, as the Orthodox Church regards Pentecost as the feast at which the revelation of God as Three-In-One is completed. At Christmas the Father sends his Son, at Easter the Son vanquishes death, and at Pentecost the Holy Spirit descends on the people. Pentecost is thus the feast of the revelation of the third per who, together with the Father and the Son, brings about the salvation of mankind.