As I have mentioned before, readers of this site write to me from time to time asking for help in identifying icons, and I am happy to help them as possible. Today I received a question about an icon one seldom sees.
It depicts Mary, Jesus, and Joseph at the time when Jesus was still young. It is not the usual type — not the version called “The Three Joys.” This one is rather different in that it depicts the family working in Joseph’s carpentry shop. Mary sits spinning wool, Joseph is cutting a board, and the youthful Jesus is cutting a slot into a beam. It is easily distinguished from the “Three Joys” icon (which was also based on a Western prototype) in that the “Three Joys” includes the youthful John the Baptist, and neither Mary, Joseph, Jesus, nor John is laboring.
This particular example of the “Physical Labor”…
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