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Theotokos in Paradise by Lyuba Yatskiv. © 2015 Lyuba Yatskiv. www.iconart-gallery.com/en/artists/lyuba-yatskiv. Used with permission.

As this edition goes to press, we pray for a swift end to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which has caused untold death and suffering. In solidarity with the Ukrainian people, we feature this month the work of some of the Ukrainian artists with whom we have worked for several years. 

On the cover, Theotokos in Paradise by Lyuba Yatskiv celebrates the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary as she is “taken up body and soul into the glory of heaven,” as declared in dogmatic proclamation by Pope Pius XII in 1950. In the image, the theotokos (“god-bearer” or “mother of god”) is seated in heaven, which is depicted according to the description of Eden in Genesis 2 (cf. vss. 8-10). We see plants and birds in the garden, as well as fish in the four rivers that stream out from the center, where Mary is seated. On the left is Abraham, the forefather. According to tradition, he cradles the host of the righteous dead in his bosom as they await judgment. On the right is Mary’s Son, the Savior, paying homage to his mother. He appears holding a cross-staff, as often depicted in icons of the Resurrection, and dressed in the simple loincloth of his last hours on earth. 

The entire scene is cradled in the hands of God the Creator, who holds all things together in tender and loving care. The hands are gentle in their embrace and appear to offer the scene for the viewer’s meditation and edification. The lettering at the top of the image identifies the theotokos, while that below labels the scene as “paradise.” Let us continue to pray that the peace of heaven will come to reign on earth. 

Visit www.iconart-gallery.com/en to see more art by Lyuba Yatskiv and other Ukrainian artists. 

© Liturgical Press.

Aelred Senna, OSB

Ælred Senna, OSB, is a monk of Saint John’s Abbey in Collegeville, Minnesota, and publisher of Give Us This Day.

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