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  • Writer's pictureHeavenly Path News Team

"The interpretation of the Orthodox icon of the Holy Trinity by Andrei Rublev".

The mysterious interpretation of one of the works of Andrei Rublev.

One of the greatest hagiographers in the world is the Russian monk Andreas Rublyov. In 1415 he decorated the Cathedral of the Ascension of Christ in Moscow. One hundred and fifty years later the synod of the Seven Chapters specifically recognizes the image of the Holy Trinity as a model of hagiography and all representations of the Holy Trinity.

..."This vision of God radiates from the transcendent truth of the doctrine. The angels bring out the unity and equality, their difference comes from the personal attitude of each one towards the others, without, however, there is neither repetition nor confusion."

There is nothing like this in terms of the power of theological composition, the richness of symbolism and the unattainable artistic beauty. We can distinguish three superimposed levels. The first is the recollection of the biblical narrative about the visit of the three hikers to Abraham (Gen. 15: 1-15), which is interpreted by the liturgical commentary: "Blessed Abraham, you saw and accepted the one and three Trinity.

But the absence of the figures of Abraham and Sarah now calls us to penetrate deeper, to the second level, of the "divine economy".

The three celestial walkers constitute the "Eternal Council" and the landscape changes significance: the scene of Abraham becomes a palace and a temple, the oak of Mavri the Tree of Life and the world a sketchy cup in nature, a light point of its presence .

The tableware with the beef replaces the glass of thanksgiving. The three light and skinny angels show us very elongated bodies. The wings of the angels, as well as the schematic way of processing the landscape give the immediate impression of the intangible, the absence of any earthly weight. The inverted perspective disappears the distance, the depth, where everything is lost far away and with an opposite result brings the forms to us, showing that God is there and everywhere. The cheerful lightness of the whole, creates a winged vision. The three persons are in conversation.

Its subject should be the text of John: "God loved the world so much that he gave his only begotten Son." But the Word of God is always an act: it takes the form of a glass. The third level, endothek, is only submitted, it is transcendental and impossible. However it is present, since the economy of salvation derives from the inner life of God. God is love itself in its triune essence and his love for the world is nothing but the atonement of his triune love. The gift of himself, which is never a backwardness, but an expression of the excess of his love, is depicted with the glass. The angels are gathered around the divine food.

The contents of the glass are the Lamb, which makes us associate the heavenly Supper with the words of Revelation: "The lamb slaughtered by the world". Love, sacrifice, carnage, exist before the creation of the world, are in the beginning.

The three angels are at rest which is the supreme peace of being itself. But this rest is also "drunk" a real ecstasy, the "exit to oneself".

Saint Gregory of Nyssa reveals the ecstasy-mystery: "The most paradoxical thing is that posture and movement are the same thing." The movement starts from the left foot of the angel, continues in the inclination of his head, passes to the angel of the center, drags without resistance the world, the rock the tree and flows in its vertical position to the left of the angel, where it calms like in a container. Along with this circular motion, the end of which defines all the rest, as eternity defines time, the vertical direction of the temple and the scepter shows the tendency of the earth towards the celestial, where the momentum finds its end. This vision of God radiates from the transcendent truth of the doctrine. The angels bring out the unity and equality, their difference comes from the personal attitude of each one towards the others, without, however, there is neither repetition nor confusion. One God and three Persons completely equal, as they reveal the same scepters, symbols of the royal power with which each angel is endowed. The divine form of the triune deity gazes upon us, transcends our own divisions and our own fragments. It is a dominant call that acts with only its reality and its simple existence. The geometric shapes of the composition are the rectangle, the cross, the triangle and the circle. They structure the image from within and must be discovered. The rectangle we see at the bottom of the table is the hieroglyph of the earth. The upper part of the table is also rectangular, we find again in this the meaning of the four parts of the world, of the four points of the horizon, which, according to the Church Fathers, was the symbolic number of the fullness of the four Gospels, in which no one can even to add or remove anything. It is the symbol of the universality of the Word. This upper part of the table - altar, represents the Bible offered by the glass, the fruit of the Word. If we extend the line of the tree of life (located behind the central angel), we will see it coming down, crossing the table and sinking its roots into the rectangle of the earth. The tree was announced by the Word and fed with the contents of the glass. Thus we find the explanation of his mystery, because the tree bore the fruits of eternal life, because it was the tree of life. The hands of the angels converge to the point of the earth, the place of application of divine Love. The halo of the Father, the glass and the point of the earth are in the same vertical line, which divides the image in two and intersects with the horizontal line, which joins the luminous circles of the adjacent angels, forming a cross. The cross is thus inscribed in the sacred circle of the divine life, it is the living axis of the trinity love. "The Father is the love that crucifies, the Son is the love that is crucified, the Holy Spirit is the cross of love, its invincible power." The Son and the Spirit are the two hands of the Father. If we join the extreme points of the table with the point located just above the head of the central angel, we see that the angels are placed exactly in an equilateral triangle. This reveals the unity and identity of the Trinity.

Finally, the line drawn following the outer contours of the three angels forms a perfect circle, a sign of divine eternity. The center of this circle is in the hand of the Father, the Pantocrator. The attitude of the Father exudes hierarchical peace and immobility, the accomplished, static principle of eternity, but at the same time, with a contrast of the most amazing, the increasing wave of movement of the right arm, its strong curve, which harmonizes with the force, with which inclines the neck and head, express the dynamic principle.

In the symbolic language of the lines, the curved curves always mean expression, speech, revelation, while on the contrary, the curved curves mean obedience, prayer, self-denial, receptivity. The Father is turned to his Son. The Son is heard, the folds of his garment express the utmost care, the self-abandonment. He renounces himself in order to be nothing but the Word of the Father. His right hand repeats the movement of the Father, the blessing. The two fingers that stand out on the whiteness of the table, symbolize the two natures of Christ. The left hand of the right angel shows the direction of blessing, the world, to think, to protect. The sweetness of the lines has something motherly. It is the consolation, the Beggar, but it is also the Spirit, the Spirit of Life. His attitude is different from other angels. With his inclination he is between the Father and the Son.

It is the spirit of society, the movement starts from this angel. The Father moves to the Son, the Son accepts the Father and the Word resonates. "By the Holy Spirit we recognize Christ, the Son of God, and by the Son we consider the Father." (St. John of Damascus). The colors have their own language. The color density of the central form becomes more intense in contrast to the whiteness of the table. The deep purple (the divine love) and the dense blue (the heavenly truth) with the glittering gold of the wings (the divine abundance) are the perfect harmony. The gold of the thrones, which is the abundance of the life of God.

The Father, inaccessible in the density of colors, is revealed sweeter, accessible in the luminous cloud of the Son and the Holy Spirit. From afar it gives the impression of a blue and red flame. The Father's hand, as it extends over the glass, holds the beginning and the end. The glass radiates in the brilliant whiteness of the Word.

From the image emerges a strong call "to become all one… as we are one". All people are invited to unite around the same and unique glass, to receive the Messianic Supper.

The Trinity exists, we have all been loved, everything is Grace.


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