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St Artemius is a child-saint of the Russian Orthodox Church. He was born in 1532 to a peasant family in the Russian village of Verkola. Tradition relates that while he was helping his father in the fields he was struck by a bolt of lightning.
Painted in the Russian folk tradition, our icon shows Artemius standing in a field holding a flower and looking up to an opening in the heavens where Christ blesses him. Behind him we see the event of his sudden death: in the foreground his father is shown ploughing the field with a horse; in the background we see Artemius lying horizontally, indicating that he has been struck by lightning. A toparion for the saint also recalls his untimely death:
By the command of the Most High, the sky was darkened with rain clouds, lightning flashed, threatening thunder clashed, and you gave up your soul into the hands of the Lord, O Artemius most wise. Now as you stand before the Throne of the Lord of All, you grant healing unfailingly to those who come to you with faith and love, and you pray to Christ our God that our souls will be saved.
The simplicity and naïveté of this icon gives it a dream-like atmosphere, bringing to mind the works of the 20th century Russian artist Chagall (for example, see fig. a), who was influenced by Russian folk art similar to our example.