Icon of the Holy Trinity
Andrei Rublev was a Russian monk who lived in the 15th century. His icon of the Trinity painted in 1412, is considered the most beautiful of all the Russian icons. It depicts the biblical tale of Abrahams' meeting with the three angels at the oak of Mamre (Genesis 18:1-15). He sees three angels but worships them as one. From the words of this sacred story, the tradition of the Church understands that the three angels are a symbol of the Trinity 'friend and sacrifice of man'.
In the Icon, the angels are depicted in a calm and thoughtful meeting. We can recognize in the central figure, the persona of the Son of God: in face, the clothes he wears, which are blue and red, are typical of those worn by Christ the Pantocrater (from the Greek, meaning 'the fullness of all human being'). However, in the most common interpretation, the angel in the centre of the icon represents the Father, the fountain of life; the draping on his chest is like a fountain, spurting from the heart. Above his heart is the tree of life.
On the right of the Father is the Son, His expression of acceptance and obedience gives weight to this interpretation. Furthermore, directly above his head is a building which symbolizes the Church.
The dialogue between the Father and Son is that of the incarnation, as we can see from the two fingers of the Father, which symbolizes both the divine and human nature of the Son. The two fingers of the Son, which copy the gesture of the Father, are the sign of acceptance. The Son accepts from the Father, the necessity of his self-sacrifice for the salvation of the world. 'Here, I come to fulfill Your will' (Hebrew 10:9).
The Holy Spirit is seated on the left of the Father, and from there begins the sense of circular movement which dominates the icon. In fact, every movement which blesses the world comes from the Holy Spirit. The hand of the Holy Spirit points to the universe, blessed by the sacrifice of the Son. The universe is symbolized by the rectangle on the front of the table. The sacrificial lamb is depicted in the chalice.
Between all three characters, there reigns a sense of total accord. The angel on the left sits thoughtfully, whilst the other two lean towards each other in an expression of infinite accordance. The Russian theologian Pavel Florenski wrote 'If Rublev was able to paint this icon, then it means that God exists!'
Some Russian theologians also say that the icon is fulfilled in the believer. To pray in front of this icon, signifies asking God to be taken into His friendship, to participate in the gentleness and peace which the Trinity offers us, to accept to live with the Son of God in his mission of loving the world.