Jesus's Shoe

edited December 1969 in Random Issues
Does anyone happen to know why the shoe on the foot of Jesus is falling of as he sits on the lap of St. Mary in the very famous icons around the world. Its always been a question that i cant wait to hear the answer for. Thank you God bless you


  • Copied from a Ukranian Church in Canada:

    One of the most popular icons found in Ukrainian churches and homes falls into the Eleusa category. It is known by several names, including the “Virgin of Passion”, the “Virgin of Perpetual Help” or Pammakaristos in Greek. Some Ukrainians may know it as the Dostoino icon because the icon commemorates the Hymn to the Theotokos: “It is truly meet to bless you, Theotokos, ever blessed and most pure and Mother of our God.” The first word of this hymn in Slavonic is Dostoino (Достóйно).

    One must study the details of the icon to appreciate why it is called the “Virgin of Passion”. The theological interpretation of this icon is that the angel who greeted the Virgin at the Annunciation now reveals the instruments of the Passion to her and her child. Christ, being a human child, is frightened by this revelation. The two angels in the upper corners bear the implements of Christ’s torture and death. Note that one of the sandals is loose and dangles freely from Jesus’ foot. Tradition has it that the sandal came off when Christ was frightened by the vision presented by the angels and he leapt into his mother’s arms. (In some versions of this icon the Virgin and Child wear crowns and in others they do not.)
  • My parish priest once explained two reasons for the lose sandal, of which I remember one clearly.

    1) In the Old Testament tradition, if a man marries a women and dies without a child his brother would marry the women and produce offsprings for his brother. This is because every women wants to have a chance to be in the family line of Jesus. If the brother refuses to take his brothers wife the women would take her sandals off and throw it at him (in Middle Eastern culture this is a highly insulting). Once Jesus is born there is no reason to continue this tradition - no more taking a brother’s wife since Jesus is already here and the family line argument doesn’t work any more. Hence the lose sandal on Jesus feet signifies this.

    2) The second point I don’t recall clearly. If memory serves me right I believe it has something to do with the sandal that is not lose being made of leather, a product of a sacrificed animal. Hence, the sacrifice Jesus will make. (Please, don’t quote me on this one & I will try to ask my FOC to explain it to me again). 

    In Christ
  • Thank you so much for the reasons why!
  • I don' know if I agree with the view that Jesus was frightened from the the Angel's revelation about his passions.
  • I learned that the loose sandal comes from this biblical reference:

    Luke 3:16
    "John answered, saying to all, “I indeed baptize you with water; but One mightier than I is coming, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire."

    St. Mary was worthy to loosen his sandal strap, being His mother.
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