Lives of the Saints
Scenes from the Life of Saint Nicholas (Nos. 66-76)
Vita icons, where the saint is shown with accompanying scenes from his life on all four borders of the panel is a form developed in Byzantium in the late 11th or early 12th century. For example, a St. John and Scenes from His Life, painted circa 1100, can be seen at St. Catherine's Monastery on Mount Sinai. Of the few saints celebrated in this way by far the most common is St. Nicholas. A good example is No. 66.
In this icon of St. Nicholas we see, in the top row (reading from left to right) 1, the birth of St. Nicholas; 2, the first miracle where, unaided, he stands an hour after his birth expounding wisdom; 3, the second miracle when still as a young child he cured a woman with a withered arm; 4, the early education of the young Nicholas. In the next row (either side of the centre) we see 5, St Nicholas becoming a deacon and 6, then becoming a bishop. In the third row down 7, he appears before the Emperor Constantine in a dream. Then 8, we see him freeing three Christians from prison. In the bottom row: 9, he rescues a drowning man whose boat has capsized; 10, he returns a kidnapped child to his parents. Then 11, the death of St. Nicholas and finally 12, we see the translation of his relics from Myra in Palestine to Bari in Italy.
Nos. 67 - 73 are a group of fragments, almost certainly once bordering a monumental icon of St. Nicholas that have been reset into new panels and given decorative borders. This work, probably done in the early 20th century, uses a technique for preserving old icons developed by the Old Believers in the 18th century. They are from a master painter of the School of Mstera. The same can be said of Nos. 66 - 68. Though in a different style, they probably also come from Mstera. In the lower borders of these icons are the following inscriptions: No. 72: St. Nicholas the Miracle-worker is brought to study Literacy; No. 71: The Ordination of St. Nicholas the Miracle-worker; No. 70: The Dormition of St. Nicholas the Miracle-worker; No. 69: St. Nicholas the Miracle-worker saves Three Men from the Sword; No. 68: Birth of St. Nicholas the Miracle-worker; No.67: Baptism of St. Nicholas the Miracle-worker.