”The Burning bush” icon

The miracle that Moses witnessed on Sinai in the burning bush foretold your virgin childbearing, O pure mother. We, the faithful, cry to you: Rejoice, O truly living bush! Rejoice, O holy mountain! Rejoice, O sanctified expanse, and most holy Theotokos!”  Troparion Hymn



The doctrine of the Incarnation occupies a central position in the teachings of the Orthodox Church. According to Christian belief, “the Son of God became the Son of Man so that the sons of men might become sons of God” (St. Athanasius the Great, On the Incarnation).

The Incarnation reveals to us the mystery of Jesus Christ, who united himself with man in order to reveal the true nature of human life. Adam, through his disobedience and his decision to become a god without God, changed human nature and the whole meaning of life. It was the fall that provoked God’s loving response by sending his redemptive word. God became incarnate to redeem fallen humanity and renew all of creation. Only in the incarnation of God does human life have meaning.

Through the icon and our devotion to it, we can understand the incarnation of God as the manifestation of God’s greatest love for the world. Through the icon, the iconographer bears witness to the reality of God’s incarnation.


The Blessed Virgin Mary is the greatest helper of Christians, especially for those who strive for the spiritual life and want to give up their sinfulness.

Through her, says the blessed Augustine, God descended to earth so that believers could ascend to Him. She is the hope and helper of sinners and leads them to repentance.

The Mother of God is an inexhaustible source of mercy, an insurmountable wall, a tireless intercessor before the Creator, and a hope and protection for all believers.

She is the one to whom God has promised to fulfill all her requests. Through her motherly supplication, God’s righteous wrath is turned away from us sinners.


The holy apostle Paul, defining the meaning of the Old Testament and the history of its persons and rites, says that all this served as a shadow or preview of the persons and events of the New Testament. Our Lord Jesus Christ confirms the meaning of these previews. He himself relates the events of the Old Testament to those of the New Testament.

He says,Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”(John 3:14) and more: “For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” (Matthew 12:40)

The Old Testament previews were about the Redeemer, the Lord Jesus Christ. All the hopes and expectations of the righteous of the ancient world rested on him. But the Holy Church, in her liturgical texts and hymns and the books of the Holy Fathers, found among the Old Testament types and shadows those referring to the Holy Mother of God.

“The attentive reader will find various references to the Immaculate Virgin Mary scattered throughout the divinely inspired Scriptures,” remarks St. Andrew of Crete.

And St. John of Damascus describes the Blessed Virgin as “Theotokos, predestined in the eternal council according to God’s foreknowledge, typically foretold in various prophetic images and words and proclaimed by the Holy Spirit.”

We call her The Mother of God, Virgin Mary, Theotokos (Greek: “God-Bearer”); she is holy and ever Virgin because she is the most venerated of all saints and the strongest protector of all mankind before her Son, Jesus Christ. She is Mary, the Queen of Heaven and Earth.

At the beginning of the Holy Bible, in Moses’ story about the creation of the world, the Holy Church and the Holy Fathers found the preview of the Mother of God in the virgin land. Although the land was not yet cultivated, as man had not yet been created, there were many different plants and trees there. It was in this virgin land that God created man.

“As the first-created Adam, says St. Irenaeus of Lyons, received his body from the pure, still virgin earth and was formed by the hand of God, that is, by the Word of God, so this was repeated in the incarnation of God-Word; God-Word, who restored Adam through Himself, was pleased to be born like the restoration of Adam, since He was born of Mary, a virgin.”

According to St. John Chrysostom, this Virgin (the virgin land) is a retrospective of the other Virgin: “As from this earth without seed the heaven grew up, so the Virgin gave birth to Christ without man.”. The holy Mother of God was born in a land full of sin, but she remained pure, innocent of sin, and knew no injustice.


“Now Moses kept the flock of Jethro, his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the backside of the desert and came to the mountain of God, even to Horeb.

And the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush, and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed.

And Moses said, I will now turn aside and see this great sight—why the bush is not burned.

And when the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I.

And he said, Draw not nigh hither; put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.’’( Exodus 3:1–5)

In the year 330, equal to the apostle, the holy empress Helena had a small church built on Mount Horiv, the Sinai, on the spot where the burning bush crawled and Moses saw the god. This was the beginning of the construction of the monastery of St. Ekaterina on Mount Sinai, which has always enjoyed a special status and, by God’s providence, has remained intact to this day. It is believed to be the oldest monastery, and the Holy Liturgy has never been interrupted.

In the beginning, the monastery was dedicated to the Mother of God, the unburnt bush. To commemorate this event, the icon of the Mother of God, the Burning Bush, is venerated and the Akathistika is read.

This Old Testament symbol can be found in some hymns: “As the blackberry did not burn in the fire, so you, Virgin, gave birth.”. In the hymn of the Annunciation, we find: “Rejoice, you, the unburnt bush.”.

This miraculous biblical event is seen as a throwback to the Mother of God, who bore in her womb the unbearable God who created the heavens, the earth, and everything in it and took flesh from her.

Moses saw a shadow (preview) of the Mother of God in the bush that burned and remains unburned. The bush, devoured by fire, remained whole, just as the virgin, having given birth to God, remained virginal. The hymn says, “The image of Your pure birth showed the flaming bramble unburnt.” “As the blackberry burned but did not burn, so you were born a virgin and remained a virgin.”

St. Gregory of Nyssa says: “What is foretold there (i.e., in the Old Testament) by the flame and the bramble is clearly revealed in the course of time in the mystery of the Virgin; as there the bramble burns and does not burn, so here (i.e., in the New Testament) the Virgin gives birth to the light and remains incorruptible.”. This is the reason why the Holy Church calls the Mother of God an “unburnt bush” and why Christian art depicts her surrounded by fiery splendour. Since ancient times, this type of icon has been called the “unburnt bush.”


Miracles that occur before the icons of the Mother of God are the result of true faith, hope, and love. The Holy Church has adopted some of the most famous icons of the Virgin Mary to be honored with a feast. There are also special services for them. The “Unburnt Bush” icon is one of them. As we have already mentioned, this icon represents the Old Testament prophet who will give birth to God.

Many miracles are associated with the “Unburnt Bush” icon, to the glory of God. One witness reported that in a huge fire between the burning houses of many people stood a weeping woman holding the icon of the “Unburnt Bush.”. She stood still in her place without moving. When the catastrophe was over and only ruins remained of the city, only one house was spared from the fire—the house in front of which the woman with the icon in her hands was standing.

Another, much later iconographic composition of the “Unburnt Bush” icon shows the Mother of God in the center of the octagonal star.

The star consists of two squares. One of them is red and is reminiscent of fire; the other is green and is reminiscent of the bush. In the fourth angle of the icons, we see the fourth symbols of the evangelists described in the book Apocalips by John the Theologian: angel, lion, calf, and eagle. We see archangels with symbols that correspond to church tradition: Michael with a scepter, Raphael with an alabaster vessel, Uriel with a flaming sword, Selatiel with a censer, Varachiel with a bunch of grapes, and Gabriel with the branch of the Annunciation. The Mother of God holds a ladder in her right hand. This is a symbol that she has raised humanity to heaven.

One of the oldest icons, “Unburnt Bush,” can be found in the Church of the Annunciation” in Moscow. In 1390, Palestinian monks brought the icon to Miscov. According to church tradition, the icon was written on the same rock where Moses saw the burning bush in biblical times. This icon is celebrated on September 4, the day on which we venerate the holy prophet Moses, the seer of God.

In the Orthodox world, it has long been customary for every family to have the “Unburnt Bush” icon in their home as a sign of heavenly patronage and protection from fire and natural disasters. In front of this icon, we pray to the Holy Mother of God to grant us the protection of the whole world from fire, wars, internal and external disturbances, and struggles. We firmly believe that the Mother of God, through her holy icons, bestows an abundance of healing benefits on the faithful, gives inexhaustible grace, and frees everyone from unrest and disasters.


O most holy and blessed Mother of our sweet Lord Jesus Christ!

We swoon and adore you before your holy and pure icon, through which you perform marvelous and glorious miracles, protect our homes from fire, lightning, and thunder, heal the sick, and fulfill all our good wishes.

We humbly beseech you, almighty intercessor, for our people, to have mercy on us, the weak and sinners, with your motherly compassion and kind care. Save and preserve, Lady, under the protection of your mercy, your holy Church, this city, our entire Orthodox country, and all of us who fall down before you with faith and love and ask for your intercession with tears of tenderness.

Oh, all-merciful Lady, have mercy on us who are afflicted by many sins and who lack the courage to ask for mercy and forgiveness before Christ the Lord, but we ask you, as his natural mother, to implore him. Almighty, lift up your God-fearing hands to Him and intercede for us before His goodness, asking forgiveness for our transgressions, a pious and peaceful life, a good Christian end, and a good response to His Last Judgment.

In the hour of God’s terrible visitation, when a fire breaks out in our homes or we are threatened by thunder and lightning, show us your merciful intercession and almighty help, so that we, saved by your almighty prayers to the Lord, may avoid the temporary punishment of God here and there and inherit eternal heavenly bliss and sing with all the saints the venerable and glorious name of the adored Trinity—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit—and your great mercy for us in eternal times. Amen.


2 thoughts on “”The Burning bush” icon

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