November 19, 2016–February 26, 2017

Holy Fools to Wonder Workers will feature 30 icons from the Museum’s collection that are not regularly on view. Visitors to the exhibit will be able to explore different types of saints celebrated by the Orthodox Church, from Prophets of the Old Testament to the Monastics living in rural Russia. Popular saints such as Nicholas and George will be shown alongside those who are lesser known but equally fascinating figures. There is Simeon the Stylite, who lived for many years atop a pillar, and Saint Mary of Egypt, a repentant sinner who lived alone in the deserts of Egypt.

Saints play an integral role in the Orthodox Church: they serve as models of Christianity and are believed to function as intercessors, forming a link between the secular world and the holy. In the early days of Christianity saints included biblical figures, Church leaders, and the growing ranks of passionate Christians who willingly died for their faith. As the Church grew, people were remembered for their great piety and works of faith.

A saint is recognized within a localized region long before the Holy Synod and Hierarch begin the formal process of Glorification, also called Canonization. The Glorification process involves an investigation of the holy person’s life, any of their writings, and of any miracles attributed to them. After this process, the life of the saint is officially recorded, an icon is created, and an annual Feast Day is set, often the date of the saint’s death.

Each day of the Liturgical Year commemorates several saints; some are celebrated internationally while others are only remembered in small communities. Monarchs and peasants, warriors and monks alike have found places in the lists of the Church and the hearts of the faithful.

Two Imperial Icons

October 15, 2016–May 14, 2017

royal-lecture nightThese two important Imperial Presentation icons by Faberge and Kurliukov, were created as gifts for the 1908 wedding of Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna the Younger (1890-1958) to Prince Willem of Sweden, Duke of Sodermanland.

The “Feodorovskaya Mother of God” by Faberge, was a gift from the St. Petersburg Nobility Assembly, and an icon of the “Image Made Without Hands” by Kurliukov in the pan-Slavic style, was a gift from the Moscow Merchants’ Association.

These two icons represent the differences in style and political intentions of the two groups of donors. Gifts to Russian Grand Duchesses were known for their extravagance.