Theotokos of the SEVEN SWORDS - Семистрельная - Semistrel'naya, "Seven Arrows." - Virgen de los Dolores, the "Virgin of the Sorrows," - Nuestra Senora de los Dolores - "Our Lady of the Sorrows"
depicts the mournful Virgin Mary with her hands raised in a prayerful position while seven "arrows" or "swords" pierce her heart. Four arrows from her right side and three from her left side.
The Seven Swords symbolize the Seven Sorrows of Mary:
1. The Prophecy of Simeon (Luke 2: 25-35).
2. The Flight into Egypt (Matthew 2: 13-15).
3. The Child Jesus Lost in the Temple (Luke 2: 41-50).
4. Mary meets Jesus carrying the cross (Luke 23: 27-29).
5. Mary at the foot of the cross (John 19: 25-30).
6. Mary receives the body of Jesus (Psalm 130).
7. Mary witnesses the burial of Jesus (Luke 23: 50-56).
While there are several versions of the origins of this miraculous icon, it was a very popular icon in the 1800s in Russia. The history of the icon describes how the icon was processed around the city Vologda in 1830 the plague was stopped. The icon probably was influenced by the Catholic devotion to and representation of the same subject, the sorrows of the Virgin Mary.
The number seven to the Russian Christian represents "fullness" and "completeness" like the seven days of the week and the seven Holy Mysteries (Sacraments). The Virgin pieced with the seven "arrows" or "swords" represents the fullness of suffering. By this they look on Mary as taking on their sorrows as well. It is is a Russian tradition to hang this icon above the front door to ward off evil and absorb any sorrows coming to the house. In modern Russia the Virgin of Sorrows is invoked to help in disputes involving law suits and quarrels.
A very similar icon to this, Virgin Softener of Evil Hearts has a different positioning of the swords.
SIZE: 15 7/8" x 13 1/8"