Russian icon | St Sergei of Radonezh

Icon: St Sergei of Radonezh B-2

Origin :
Russia, Moscow
Period :
circa 1600
Size :
31.5 x 24 cm
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St Sergei of Radonezh, founder of the renowned Trinity Monastery near Moscow, is depicted standing to the left on a green ground. He raises both hands in prayer and looks up at the Old Testament Trinity, which appears in a segment of heaven in the upper right corner of the icon. The famous Trinity icon painted by Andrei Rublev was painted on the orders of St Sergei’s successor, St Nikon, in memory of the monastery’s founder.

On the icon, St Sergei is dressed in an ochre coloured tunic and a  simple, dark brown monk’s habit. The hood he wears over his shoulders is blue, as is the stole underneath. It has the instruments of the Passion depicted on it. This garment, the Great Schima, is the sign of distinction for monks who reach the highest level of asceticism.

Without doubt, St Sergei of Radonezh is the most revered Russian monk and founder of monasteries. In the first half of the 14th century he founded the Trinity Monastery, which is situated about 45 miles north of Moscow. He organised the monastic life following the example of the Kiev Monastery of the Caves. All private property was abolished and the monks had to perform communal tasks no matter what their rank. With his political and spiritual insights, St Sergei of Radonezh supported the Russian offensive against the Tatars. Blessed by St Sergei, Grand Prince Dmitrii of Moscow advanced to the Kulikovo Field in 1380, where the legendary battle against the Tatars took place. The Russians won and the Tatars’ role diminished ever afterwards. Just before his death, the Mother of God appeared to St Sergei, an event pictured on a great many icons. St Sergei died in 1392.