Orthodox icon of The Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Celebrated December 25th.
Orthodox Icon of the Nativity, the child-Christ and His mother are shown in a cave, surrounded by impossibly sharp, inhospitable, rocks which reflect the cruel world into which Jesus was born. Christ child is shown in a manger in a cave. In this time period animals were not sheltered in wooden barns, but in caves and recesses in the hills, and so this stable is shown in the Icon. In the top center we see the Star representing the heavens and the Holy Trinity which sends down a single shaft towards the baby Jesus. This represents the star that is being followed by the Magi, the wise Persians from the East, who are bearing gifts to the Christ.
But they are shown in the distance, still on their journey. They are not there. Along the top of the rocks are angels bringing the glad tidings of the birth of the world's Savior. On the right, the shepherds who are people not highly regarded by anyone else. They are the first to be given the Good News of Jesus birth. But they are also shown outside of the cave, still by their flocks. They too are not at Christ's side yet. Besides His mother, the only company Jesus Christ has in the first few hours of His earthly life are a lowly ox and Donkey.
The presence of the Ox and the Donkey in the Nativity icon fulfills one of many prophecies in the Old Testament book of Isaiah:The ox knows his owner, and the donkey his master's crib (Isaiah 1:3). Here the animals are also shown providing warmth to Jesus by their breath. in the center bottom is a Jesse Tree.Named after an Old Testament patriarch, the tree's presence is to remind us of another fulfilled prophecy from Isaiah:A shoot shall sprout from the stump (tree) of Jesse and from his roots a bud shall blossom.
The spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him (Isaiah 11:1-2). On bottom right we see a midwife.According to the Evangelium, Joseph brought along two women a midwife and a woman called Salome to help with the birth of Jesus. Salome is identified with a woman who later became a disciple of Christ, was the mother of the Apostles James and John, and was one of the women who discovered the empty tomb after Christ's resurrection. Joseph is found in the bottom left of the icon, away from his betrothed and her Son.
He seen listening to an old man and looks troubled. He is beset with new doubts regarding this birth, and these doubts are delivered to him by satan in the form of an old man. icon also acknowledges, as do the hymns of the Church, the great mystery of this event.