Orthodox Nativity Icon

Orthodox Nativity Icon, 20th century.

This modern icon is in a traditional style for the nativity from the 15th century. The painting style is somewhat jagged to illustrate the roughness of the world. Mary and Jesus are in the center surrounded by vignettes of theological symbols that would have been understandable to any worshiper.

The star that guided the magi is at the top, shining down on the Christ child. The angels are shown guiding the magi and the shepherds on either side. One young shepherd sits playing his flute to proclaim the good news. At the bottom right are two midwives showing that Jesus was born in the normal way and would have needed to be washed like any newborn. The Jesse tree shown at the bottom center and the ox and the ass shown next to the crib illustrate two prophecies: Isa 11:1-2 and Isa 1:3. Joseph is depicted separate from Jesus and Mary. The old man speaking to him represents the devil bringing doubts to Joseph. 


Birth, often accounts about the birth of Jesus.

Of or belonging to any of several branches of Christianity, especially from Eastern Europe and the Middle East, whose adherents trace their tradition back to the earliest Christian communities. Lowercase ("orthodox"), this term means conforming with the dominant, sanctioned ideas or belief system.

Relating to thought about the nature and behavior of God.

short literary piece

Isa 11:1-2

The Peaceful Kingdom
1A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse,
and a branch shall grow out of his roots.2The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him,
the sp ... View more

Isa 1:3

3The ox knows its owner,
and the donkey its master's crib;
but Israel does not know,
my people do not understand.

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