The Gospel, according to St.John, speaks about the Raising of Lazarus (J.11: 1-45). According to the Gospel in Bethany Lazarus,the brother of Mary and Martha, fell ill.The sisters sent a message to Jesus Christ, but Our Lord arrived in Bethany four days after Lazarus’ death and funeral and promised Martha who came out to meet Him that her brother would arise from the dead. Martha called Mary and she came with the Jews mourning for Lazarus.With Christ and the apostles they made their way to the cave, Lazarus’ burial place.Jesus Christ commanded the people to remove the stone that covered the hillside burial place and giving thanks to His God Father, called ut “Lazarus, come out!” (J. 11-43)The dead man came out wrapped in his grave clothes, his face was covered with a pall.Jesus told Zazarus to be untied and many Jews under the spell of the miracle put their faith in Christ.In Russia from the end of the X11-beginning of the XШ centuries the Apocryphal “Word on the Raising of Lazatus” based on the texts of the Apocryphal Gospel of Nicodemus, the Psalms, works of St.Epiphanius of Cyprus 9367-403), St. Eusebius of Samosata (died in 380) and St.Cyril of Turov ( died fefore 1182).

The iconography of the Raising of Lazarus was formed in the early Christian period and with time has not undergone significant change.At the left are the apostles and benedictive Christ, at the right –Lazarus wrapped in white grave clothes coming out of his burial place. Kneeling Martha and Mary, Lazarus’ sisters, are in the foreground looking up at Christ. The action unfolds against the background of the rock-mound ledges with a group of Jews who, according to the Gospel, witnessed the Raising of Lazarus.In a more detailed version beside Lazarus there are two young men one of which holds his nose against the deadly odour and the other opens the entrance to the cave.

The Raising of Lazarus was an anticipation of Christ’s resurrection and a pledge of the general resurrection.The depiction of this subject matter became one the first and most widespread in the Early Christian art ( over 20 frescoes in the Roman catacombs of the Ш-1V centuries) In the Russian icon painting until the middle of the XV1 century the Raising of Lazarus was part of the Twelve Major Festivals and,accordingly, of the Festival tier of the iconostas. After the middle of the XV1 century the icon of the Raising of Lazarus in the Festival tier was replaced by the Exaltation of the Holy and Life-giving Cross.

The holiday is celebrated on the Saturday of the Great Lent on the eve of the entry of Our Lord into Jerusalem.

Zhanna G. Belik,

Ph.D. in Art history, senior research fellow at the Andrei Rublyov Museum, custodian of the tempera painting collection.

Olga E. Savchenko,

research fellow at the Andrei Rublyov Museum.


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