The icon having icons of the Lord Transfiguration on its obverse and images of four holy persons on its reverse is made in ancient Byzantine traditions. Such large multipart gold shining icons with images of several honored saints at once were usually worn over the garments. They made one feel protected, helped to pray on one’s way and embellished the temple of human body, like iconostas embellished church.
The icon of “Transfiguration” on the obverse shows us our Lord Jesus Christ in that very moment when he appeared before three disciples of Him – Peter, Jacob and John – on the mount Tabor in aureole of Divine Glory. Gospel tells that His face has been like the Sun, His garments shining like snow. The Prophets Elias and Moses stood before Him, talking. The Apostles could hardly bear joy that crept them over in the presence of God. And when a cloud descended to the mount, and the voice of God: “This is my beloved son. Hear him”; the Apostles fell to the ground in fear (Luke9:35). Thus on the icons “Transfiguration” they are always pictured prostrate by Christ’s feet.
The Transfiguration of Christ is among twelve Great Feasts in Russian Orthodox Church, i.e. is celebrated as one of the most important events in Christ’s life. In folk calendar this feast (August 19) is called «the Apple Savior» because new fruitage is sanctified in churches.
According to the teaching of the Church he Divine Light seen by the Apostles is the Non-created Light of the Divine Grace bestowed by the Holy Spirit; life-giving energy of God. The Grace may be also bestowed to a human being as a reward for purity and sanctity of life. The selected God pleasers obtain a peculiar gracious power together with it. Through the Holy Spirit they are able to penetrate the future mentally, to heal, to drive out demons .
On the reverse of the small icon there is four of such God pleasers beloved b God. To the left of the golden Seraph who spreads his wings above the saints we see St. Sergius of Radonezh (†1422). He started his way to God as an eremite not far from Moscow in untrodden forest of Radonezh where he founded a cloister that became a spiritual center of Russia. St. Sergius united monastic simple labor with prayers, vigil and fasts; he always did the hardest work by himself trying to facilitate needs of other monks. Once the brethren complained to him about the difficulties of carrying water up-hill. The saint offered his prayer, and a spring gushed from the ground right in the cloister. St. Sergius worked many other wonders as well. He healed sick persons who were brought from everywhere, and even raised a boy from the dead. The monks saw that during a Liturgy the God’s Angel helped him. His lay brother St. Micaiah witnessed the apparition of the Most Holy Mother of God accompanied by the Apostles Peter and John the Theologian to St. Sergius. The Saint is commemorated is on October 8 and on July 18).
To the right of the Seraph there stands St. Alexander of Svir (†1533) as if an interlocutor of St. Sergius. He started his monastic life at the Island Balaam where he became soon famous for his asceticism. St. Alexander retired from worldly glory to a forest, and settled down on the shore of a lake named the Sacred afterwards. There he was honored with two miraculous apparitions unparalleled in the history of Russian sanctity. In 1508 he was a covert onlooker of the Life-giving Holy Trinity. Three Men with snowy garments on entered his reclusory. They were illuminated with the Divine Glory, and shined brighter than the sun with their purity. The Men enjoined the saint to built a church in the name of the Life-giving Holy Trinity. Next time the Most Holy Mother of God with the Infant Christ in Her arms, and accompanied by multitude of angels appeared before him in the presence of the lay brother Athanasius. The saint worked numerous wonders both in his lifetime, and after death. His relics remain undecayable in the Monastery founded by, and named after him. He is commemorated twice: on the day of his passing away, September 12 (August 30); and on the day of founding his relics, April 30(17).
At the top of the small icon we see St. Xenia of Petersburg (†1803). St. Xenia was born between 1719 and1730. At the age of only 26 she remained a widow. Her beloved husband, Colonel Andrew Petrov was a court chorister; besides he was an alcoholic. One night this terrible affliction took its toll on him, causing him to drop dead in a drunken state. The shock of losing him and the even greater grief of knowing he died unconfessed shocked St. Xenia, and she decided to beg God’s forgiveness for him by praying and behaving like a “Christ’s fool”. She gave away all her wealth and property, even the house she lived in; put on her husband’s court-dress coat, and assumed his name, assuring everyone that was it she who had been died, but not he. Since then St. Xenia had wandered the streets of Saint-Petersburg during 45 years. For great deeds and patience the Lord glorified His chosen one. Xenia was gifted with ability of insight in future and in human hearts, as well as of help in regulating one’s life. She keeps on working these wonders after her death. In 19th century a chapel was built whereto people come and write the whole world, appealing to the saint woman as to a quick helper and a woman of prayer. coffin that is until now visited by numerous worshippers. The saint is commemorated is on February 6 (January 24).
Beneath there is the image of another God great pleaser – St. Blessed Matrona of Moscow who has become famous for her selfless life in the 20th century. St. Blessed Matrona (†1952) was born in 1885. At the age of 7 there had come to light her peculiar spiritual gift of seeing people’s sins, transgressions, and even their thoughts. And soon the Lord gifted her ability of healing through prayer. She healed people herself suffering from dangerous illnesses. She was born not simply blind, but with empty eye sockets closed by eyelids. In her seventeenth year Matrona has suddenly lost the use of her legs. After the revolution she was compelled to move to Moscow, where she became a homeless wanderer, and changed one somebody else’s lodgings for another for the rest of her natural life. Devoid of everything she received up to forty people every day refusing help to nobody; she spent nights in praying. Wonders are now worked at the grave of the saint at the Danilovskoye Cemetery.
St. Blessed Matrona is commemorated is on May 2 (April 19), September 3 (August 21), October 5 (September 22).