During the reign of Caesar Augustus, our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ was born of the Virgin Mary in the town of Bethlehem. Refer to the Gospels of Matthew (chapters 1-2) and Luke (chapter 2) for the account of the Lord's birth in the flesh. The feast is universally celebrated on December 25.
This beautiful icon depicts several scenes from this glorious event. In the center, the Theotokos lies beside the Lord in the cave. The ox and donkey represent the Jews and the Gentiles. In the upper right corner, an angel gives the good news of this birth to a shepherd, and on the left side, the Magi are guided by the star, carrying their gifts from the East. In the lower right corner, a midwife tends to the newborn Savior, and on the left side, Joseph the old man is tempted to leave Mary by the devil appearing in human form. (The latter two of these scenes are from the Protoevangelium of James, an early Christian text from which the Church draws a number of traditions about the Nativity.)