This summer I spent 14 days in Alaska and in addition to all the tourist things we did, I was particularly interested in the churches we visited, most of them Russian Orthodox. In Sitka we had a wonderful experience on a rainy day at an authentic Russian tea in a local church hall followed by a visit to St. Michael’s Cathedral. This Wikipedia site explains Russia’s role in Alaska very well. Only the seminary was open at St. Michael’s when we visited and I was very taken with all the iconography on display. I was particularly intrigued by what the seminarian called the three-handed virgin (theotokos). I don’t recall ever seeing one before.
Legend has it that the third hand, fairly common in orthodox iconography, represents the severed and later healed hand of St. John of Damascus when he defended the holy icons against the Iconoclasts. This icon (and reproductions of it) is a beloved devotional icon of the Mother of God and Christ but is also especially used in processions and services for the Sunday of Orthodoxy with the iconic reference to the triumph over the Iconoclasts in the third hand. The original is apparently at Mt. Athos at Hilander Monastery. I LOVE learning new things.
Be sure to visit Rebecca at Recuerda mi Corazon to daily follow Loving Lupita.