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Russian Icon - The Severed Head of Saint John the Baptist

Saint John the Baptist was a Jewish itinerant preacher in the early first century AD who is revered as a major religious figure in Christianity, Islam, and other faiths. He is called a prophet by all of these traditions, and is honored as a saint in many Christian traditions. The Orthodox faithful believe that John was the last of the Old Testament prophets, thus serving as a bridge between that period of revelation and the New Covenant. They also teach that, following his death, John descended into Hades and there once more preached that Jesus the Messiah was coming, so he was the Forerunner of Christ in death as he had been in life. Eastern Orthodox churches will often have an icon of St. John the Baptist in a place of honor on the iconostasis, and he is frequently mentioned during the Divine Services. Every Tuesday throughout the year is dedicated to his memory.

According to the Tradition, Herod's daughter Herodias danced before Herod, who was so pleased that he offered her anything she asked for in return. When the girl asks her mother what she should request, she is told to demand the head of John the Baptist. Reluctantly, Herod orders the beheading of John, and his head is delivered to her, at her request, on a plate. (Mark 6:17–29).

Additional Info

  • ID#: 192-1009-028-003-SP1
  • Size: 8 3/4 x 6 3/4 inches (22 x 17 cm)
  • Age: ca. 1900
  • Origin: Vladimir region, possibly icon painting village of Mstyora
  • Materials: Egg tempera on gilt, tooled and gessoed wood
  • Price: $875
  • Orthodox Cross
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