The Akathist to Our Most Holy Lady is the series of depictions or one composition which illustrate the laudative and doctrinal hymn to the Mother of God – the Akathist to the Most Holy Theotokos or the Great Akathist. Most historians believe that the Akathist text dates back to the 7th century. The Akathist begins with the introduction which according to the historians was written after the main text. Twelve long and twelve short strophes which in Greek tradition are called ikoses come after the introduction. In Slavic tradition short strophes were named kontakions and the long strophes – ikoses. The text can be divided into two subjects. The first one tells us the story about the mortal life of the Saviour and the Mother of God which is based on the canonical Gospels and apocryphal “Proto-Gospel of Jacob”. The second one consists of Incarnation of God and redemption of mankind doctrines. It glorifies Jesus Christ and the Mother of God. The introduction is a testimonial hymn to Our Lady for redemption of Constantinople from the invasion of the foreign tribes. The historians believe that this introduction refers to the redemption of the capital of Byzantium from the invasion of the Avar and Slavic tribes in 626.

The earliest depictions illustrating the Akathist can be seen in the frescoes of Byzantine temples of the late 13th century. The icons usually represented the Akathist compositions as border scenes. One of the most early examples of this is represented by the Greek icon of the late 14th century “Eulogy of the Most Holy Theotokos with the Akathistus” from the Dormition cathedral of Moscow Kremlin.   


1. Турилов А. А., Казачков Ю. А., Никифорова А. Ю., Статис Г., Коляда Е. И., Свящ. Максим Козлов, Стрижев А. Н., Этингоф О. Е. Акафист. // Православная энциклопедия. Том I. — М.: Церковно-научный центр «Православная энциклопедия», 2000. — С. 371–381.

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Громова Е. Б. Проблема иконографии Акафиста Богоматери в искусстве Византии и Древней Руси XIV века: Канд. дис. — М., 1990.