April 16

Unfading Flower, Moscow, Russia

The Russian Orthodox churches honor the icon of the Unfading Flower Mother of God on April 3 in the Julian liturgical calendar, April 16 in the "new style" calendar. The oldest example in Russia, destroyed after the Revolution, was in All Saints Church in the Alexeyevskoye Convent in Moscow. The Virgin bowed her uncovered head toward the barefoot Child, who held her shoulder with his right hand and a scepter in his left; in the foreground was a spray of flowers in a vase. The holy icon was thought to have originated in Mt. Athos in Greece, or in Constantinople, but there are no Greek examples with similar iconography, and the Greek Orthodox churches do not celebrate the Mother of God under this title. The floral imagery in the icon recalls passages in the ancient Akathist hymn:   

Rejoice! Flower of incorruption:
Rejoice! Crown of chastity.
Rejoice! Bright foreshadowing of the Resurrection glory:
Rejoice! Mirror of the Angels' life.

It may also reflect influences from Renaissance and Baroque Western art, where Mary was often portrayed with flowers symbolizing purity and love. 

The example at left, by Tikhon Filatov, 1691, from the Church of the Nativity of the Virgin in Golutvinski Lane in Moscow, seems to recall the Alexeyevskoye version, but is more formal, with more regal symbolism and less intimacy between the subjects. (Information and picture from "Православная икона Богородицы НЕУВЯДАЕМЫЙ ЦВЕТ и ее католический прообраз," Католический форум "Гефсимания", katolikforum.ru/index.php?showtopic=429.)

Also commemorated this date:

bulletVirgen de Ujarrás, Cartago, Costa Rica. Fiesta celebrates repulse of pirate attack, 1666.
bulletMadonna del Puglia, Gaietole, Collazzone, Umbria, Italy. Festa.
bulletMaria Santissima della Consolazione, Paternopoli, Avellino, Campania, Italy
bulletOur Lady of Altötting, Washington, D.C., USA. Replica of German Black Virgin presented at dedication of German Oratory in the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, 2005.

Where We Walked ~~~ Mary Ann Daly