Nowadays, we often call a woman who is expecting a child gravid, from a Latin word which means heavy. A much more apt way of naming this condition was used in Russia in ancient times: “not idle”, i.e., she who is busy carrying a baby and preparing for childbirth, which would be best translated into English as ‘expectant’.
An icon showing the Expectant Mother of God was discovered during the restoration of 14th-century frescoes in a convent in v. Dirbi, Georgia, in the late 1990s or early 2000s.
This image, like the Symeon’s Prophecy icon, alludes to the Gospel passage where the Righteous Joseph the Betrothed who had beenentr usted with the task of keeping the chastity of the most pure Virgin, realized that She was pregnant. [B]efore they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.
The righteous man was embarrassed and planned to let her go in secret to prevent the Jews from stoning her to death as a promiscuous woman in accordance with their custom. At that point, he was assured by an Angel that her conception was chaste and mysterious. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily. But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.
The icon portrays the Theotokos with her right hand raised to her head and wiping her tears and her left hand pointing to Joseph that Sheknowe th not a man, i.e. She is a virgin. This icon became widely known and revered across Georgia in the early 2000s.
People who can’t have children for some reason pray before the icon. Also, pregnant women and new mothers ask the Mother of God to help them raise their children in piety and to grant them future wellbeing.
Interestingly enough, a similar image of the Mother of God known as The Helper in Childbirth was discovered around the same time (in 1993) in the town of Serpukhov, Russia.
It depicts the Theotokos with her palms on her belly. Baby Jesus is depicted inside her womb. People pray in front of this image asking for help in pregnancy and childbirth, too.
Translated by The Catalog of Good Deeds