The icon of the Pentecost teaches us about the descent of the Holy Spirit appearing as
tongues of fire upon Mary and the Apostles in the Upper Room. The Feast of Pentecost (which means “the fiftieth day”) takes place fifty days after Pascha and ten days after the Ascension of Jesus into heaven. It is based on the New Testament accounts of
In the center of the icon for the Feast, we see the twelve apostles gathered in
council and prayer in the Upper Room. They are seated as Jesus told them, ready to judge the twelve tribes of Israel (cf. Matthew 19:28). They sit in seats of authority and speak with one voice. The rows of the apostles are not closed at the top or the bottom of the icon, symbolizing that the Church is the dwelling place of heaven and
earth. In the center of the icon a seat is empty, signifying the place of Jesus in the midst of His apostles. He has ascended and so, for now, He reigns invisibly in the Church through the power of the Holy Spirit and the apostolic college.
Tongues of Fire
Tongues of fire appear above the heads of the apostles, and their clothes are luminous
indicating that they are filled individually and corporately with the Holy Spirit of God.
The Heavens are Opened
Above the apostles, the heavens are opened as the Holy Spirit is poured out on the
Church. The luminous rays from heaven show that this is no natural light, but a
divine light and a divine fire which fills the Upper Room. Four pieces of cloth hang down, indicating the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the four corners of the Earth.
The Crowned Cosmos
At the bottom of the icon is a crowned king holding a cloth in the darkness. This figure represents the cosmos, all of the nations that have yet to hear the Word of God and to which Jesus sent His apostles. The long cloth symbolizes the long expectancy of the nations to hear the saving message of Christ. The fire of Pentecost doesn’t just consume the apostles—it consumes the whole earth, since the Lord Jesus as the New Adam redeems all of creation as well as his mankind.
Are you one who is called to spread the Word of God as a consecrated woman religious?
The secret to knowing the Holy Spirit and the Spirit’s power in one’s life is simply to
ask and ask and then give thanks!