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Virgin Galaktotrophousa

Virgin Galaktotrophousa

Virgin Galaktotrophousa, engraved copper plate, Gabriel of Skopelos, Mount Athos, 1871.

This Greek icon is exceptional for the wealth of information its inscriptions provide. The medallions identify Mary as H MHTHR QEOU (“The Mother of God”), while the epithet GALAKTOTROFOUSA (“She who nourishes with milk”) appears just above the angels’ inner hands. Surrounding its decorative frame is a longer liturgical text, which also directly addresses the Virgin.  This brief prayer was incorporated into a number of Greek Orthodox rites. St. John Chrysostom associated the suckling of Christ with the Incarnation, while St. Clement of Alexandria drew a parallel between the Virgin’s milk and the blood of Christ. 

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