This stunning icon of the Harrowing of Hades includes many scenes not typically included in icons of the Resurrection.
In the center, Christ can be seen standing on the Gates of Hades, pulling Adam and Eve with the Old Testament saints up out of the grave with the good news of the Resurrection.
At the lower right corner of the icon, Christ is standing on His tomb, with the awestruck soldiers trampled underfoot. He is invading Hades with an army of Angels, two of which have chained Satan at the lower left. Behind them, John the Baptist greets Christ; after he was beheaded by Herod, the same Forerunner who preached Christ to the Jews also preached in Hades in anticipation of Christ's descent into death. Behind John we can see Death in the form of a massive red serpent, vomiting out all the dead, clothed in white, being raised to eternal life.
On the middle right, we see Christ speaking with the Penitent Thief, traditionally called Dysmas. He holds a cross: the instrument of his punishment became the means of his martyrdom when he confessed Christ. Above, the Thief stands before the Gate of Paradise, whose door is open wide. And to the left, the Thief has entered Paradise, also known as the Bosom of Abraham, and he speaks with the Patriarchs. Also standing outside the gate is John the Baptist, now leading all the Old Testament saints and the faithful dead into Paradise.
These blessed events occurred on Holy Saturday and are commemorated that day.
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