The icon is painted in the traditional manner against gold leaf ground, encased in a heavy gauge silver-gilt oklad repoussé in high relief with a foliate border. The Mother of God is shown lying on her deathbed surrounded by the grieving Apostles and Christ receiving the soul of his Mother; in the upper segment of the composition appear the Archangels Michael and Gabriel, Seraphims and Cherubims representing heavenly virtues. Four bishops stand behind the Apostles, they are St.James the brother of the Lord, the first Bishop of Jerusalem, Timothy, bishop of Ephesus, Hierotheus and Dionysius the Areopagite, bishops of Athens. The upper border bears the calligraphic inscription in Old Slavonic reading: “Dormition of the Most Holy Mother of God”.
The Dormition of the Mother of God, also known as the Assumption in the Western tradition, is one of the most important feasts of the Virgin. The feast and its associated images had their sources in apocryphal stories and homilies, among which a sermon on the death of the Mother of God by Archbishop John of Thessaloniki (610-649) had the greatest influence on the iconography. According to the legend, the twelve apostles were present at the deathbed of the Mother of God, together with four early Christian writers James, Dionysius the Areopagite, Hierotheos and Timotheos of Ephesus.
The feast of the Dormition of the Mother of God is celebrated on August 15th.