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  • Marc Melich-Mautner

Icons for Baptisms

In Russia the children were baptized as quickly as possible. Each child was given a cross around their neck, which would then identify them as a Christian and ward off evil from them. The Russian word "krestnik" for baptized is derived from krest (cross) and not from diving (baptism) as in German. The cross was given by the father or mother, who in Russia correspond to the godfather or godmother. The baptismal father is more important in the Russian Church than the godfather is with us. He represents the biological father at baptism. In the Catholic Church the “Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary” (Candlemas) is celebrated 40 days after the birth of Christ.

The person to be baptized then wore the cross until his death. The cross was of particular importance because the believer without a cross ran the risk of not receiving a Christian burial if he died abroad. In addition to the cross, the person to be baptized is often given an icon with the saint that corresponds to his name, such as the icon of Saint Nicholas. The icon of the father or mother did not necessarily have to show the name of the person to be baptized. The icon could also be given after the baptism, as can be seen from the icon of Our Lady of Kazan: Little Anna only got this icon one year after her birth.

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