The icon of Our Lady of Bethlehem is considered miraculous. Perhaps, this is the one of the rarest icons of the Virgin Mary because she is depicted with a smile. This piece of art was made in Russia and moved to Bethlehem by the order of Elizabeth of Russia after the Empress had been cured of a serious health problem in front of it. The icon helps everyone, so its miraculous power will help you too!
The icon of Our Lady of Bethlehem can be seen in the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. It is hanging on the wall a few meters away from the entrance to the Cave of the Nativity. It’s a unique work because Mary the Blessed Virgin is depicted with a smile, while she looks serious, mournful, or soft on traditional images.
Our Lady of Bethlehem Icon was given to the Church of the Nativity by the Imperial House of Russia (the exact date is unknown). Her gown reminds the dress of the St Elizabeth the Martyr (Grand Duchess Elizabeth Fedorovna of Russia, 1864-1918). It’s a great example of Russian iconography. This work is known across the world because it’s the only depiction of the Virgin Mary smiling.
The icon is painted in the Hodegetria style, which in Greek means “The one who points the way”. It was Luke the Evangelist who created this portrait technique. The legend says that he painted 3 images of the Virgin Mary in this style: Jerusalem, Constantinople and Ephesus. The most known of them was the Jerusalem image of the Virgin Mary in Hodegetria. In 463, it was moved to Constantinople. With the support and protection of the Most Holy Theotokos of Jerusalem icon, the Byzantine army successfully fought back when attacked by the Scythians. In 988, the icon was brought to Korsun and presented to the St Prince Vladimir. Soon, this style of depicting Our Lady has become one of the most common in Russia.
On the Bethlehem icon, the Virgin Mary is holding the Infant Jesus. In his left hand, there is a symbol of royal power. With his right hand, he blesses people who pray looking at the image of his mother. And she points to the Savior. We can say that she is showing us the way to Christ, a way from sin to salvation. Thanks to its miraculous nature, the Bethlehem icon has become popular. In Palestine, it’s honored by Christians and Muslims, and multiple pilgrims come to see it from all over the world.
According to the tradition, people pray in front of this icon if they want to have children. Also, it’s possible to ask for the well-being of oneself and one’s family. In any need and situation, we may pray to the Most Holy Theotokos, and no one will be left without her blessing. The celebration of Our Lady of Bethlehem Icon is on August 15 (28).
You can buy the miraculous silver-plated icon of Our Lady of Bethlehem in the Andcross Orthodox Workshop Store. The painting is covered with a thin layer of silver. Such an image will be protecting you and your family from all illnesses, bring harmony and long-awaited children.