Holy Forebearer: Andrei Rublev

Andrei was born near Moscow. When he was young, he went to live and study at a monastery. It was a very famous monastery called Holy Trinity. The abbot of the monastery was St. Sergius. Andrei studied many things at the monastery but his favorite study was about icons.

When he was old enough, Andrei decided to become a monk. The abbot gave him a blessing to go to a new monastery to become a monk and to study iconography. Andrei always loved the monastery of his youth. He had learned many things there, especially a love for the Holy Trinity.

Andrei drew very close to God. Through his prayers, the Holy Spirit taught Andrei how to paint icons. Andrei was guided by two earthly teachers: Theophanes the Greek and a fellow monk named Daniel. Andrei and Daniel worked and prayed together. They became good friends. They painted icons and painted frescoes in the Cathedral of the Annunciation in Moscow. Theophanes was so pleased with their work that he sent them to the Dormition Cathedral in Vladimir to paint frescoes and icons.


Image: Andrei Rublev, The Hospitality of Abraham

Andrei and Daniel made such a great team that they were asked to paint the iconography for the Holy Trinity chapel at the monastery where Andrei grew up. The chapel and much of the monastery had been destroyed by soldiers. Andrei was very excited to go back to the Holy Trinity monastery. He wanted to paint an icon for its chapel that would really teach about the love of the Holy Trinity. He fasted and he prayed. The Holy Spirit worked in him to paint the most beautiful icon ever!

To this day, Andrei’s icon is one of the best teachers about the Holy Trinity. Theologians still study and write about it and the faithful love to pray with it to God most High! The icon depicts three angels sitting at a table. In the background, Rublev painted Abraham’s house, the Oak of Mamre, and Mount Moriah. The figures of angels are arranged so that the lines of their bodies make a full circle. The middle angel and the one on the left bless the cup. The figures gaze into eternity in the state of motionless contemplation. In this way, Andrei was able to use the three angels who visited Abraham to represent the Trinity:
 one God in three persons — the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.