Pauca Verba is Latin for A Few Words.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The Muromsk Mother of God

ATMOSPHERE IS EVERYTHING in our culture. Moonlight, candles, flowers and a white tablecloth create atmosphere. A woman's perfume in a designer bottle. A men's stick deodorant packed with sex-exciting pheromones. The laughter of a bar. The chandeliers going up at the opera house. The period costumes in Downton Abbey. The crunching sound and smell of fallen leaves. Antique ornaments on a live Christmas tree. The fireplace inside the lodge. The soft jazz performed on a CD titled Two A.M. The resort that offers old world charm. Herbal tea.

This icon of the Muromsk Mother of God was transferred by Prince Constantine from Kiev to Murom where the prince urged the unbelievers to embrace Christianity. When Constantine learned of the crowd's plot to murder him, he came out to the unconvinced mob carrying the icon of the Holy Mother and Child. At once their hearts were turned.

Mary creates an environment of light  and joy around Jesus ~ her gift to the world. Her clothing is radiated with heaven. Her mind is expanded with the best thoughts. She holds the Child as if rocking him while she looks at you - at me. She invites intimacy, offering peace, hospitality and friendship.

The Constantine story is almost 900 years old, but she is still alluring. Gazing at her long we can inhale the atmosphere she creates. Notice everything: the Child's comfortably crossed ankles and rolled up sleeves. The little scroll of teaching he holds. Her knowing eyes and soft smile. The inclination of her head towards the Child. That he plays with her chin.

Ask her to steal your heart away, and with the Child in her arms to heal that heart: stubborn in ideology, fevered with imaginings, diseased thoughts and toxicity.


  1. This is a comfortable icon to look at. Mary is at ease, Jesus playing with her. These are the memories that will bring comfort to her when the atmosphere changes, no longer relaxing. Have you ever come across a picture that shows a close resemblance of what Mary looked like?

  2. A company called Monastery Icons has an image of Mary and another of Jesus - imagining what they looked like. It doesn't grab me, but to each his own.True Icons seeks to depict symbolically what the eye cannot see visibly. They don't seek to do what a camera would have done had cameras been invented then. The two images in question can probably been viewed online.