Saint Antipas

SKU PF.5938

19th Century AD


7″ (17.8cm) high x 5″ (12.7cm) wide





Gallery Location



Russians inherited the tradition of icon painting from Byzantium, where it began as an offshoot of the mosaic and fresco tradition. During the 8th and 9th centuries, the iconoclastic controversy in the Orthodox Church called into question whether religious images were a legitimate practice or sacrilegious idolatry. Although the use of images was in the end permitted, a thorough distinction between profane art intended to depict reality and sacred art designed for spiritual contemplation was established. That difference is one of the reasons that the artistic style of icons can seem so invariant. Certain kinds of balance and harmony became established as reflections of divinity, and as such they invited careful reproduction and subtle refinement rather than striking novelty. Although this philosophy resulted in a comparatively slow evolution of style, icon painting evolved considerably over the centuries. Unlike the pictorial traditions of the west that aspire towards increased realism and naturalism, the essence of Russian icon painting is not about the representation of physical space or appearance. Icons are images intended to aid in contemplative prayer, and in that sense, are more concerned with conveying meditative harmony than with laying out a realistic scene. They were not painted to please the eye of the mind, but to inspire reflection and self-examination.

Saint Antipas lived during the reign of emperor Domitian in 83 A.D. He was contemporary with the holy Apostles and with divine John the Evangelist, of whom he was a disciple. St. John even called Antipas, “my faithful witness.” Legend states that St. Antipas was consecrated bishop of Pergamum by the holy Apostles, but this is not historically documented. There, he was tortured and executed. During his time of torture, St. Antipas appealed to God to abscond all those who follow him from pain, even a toothache. It is for this reason that today St. Antipas remains the patron saint of toothaches and is believed to be a powerful healer.

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