Today being Christmas for many Orthodox Christians, I am fondly remembering my visit a year ago to the beautiful St. Nikolas Russian Orthodox Cathedral in Vienna.
If you enlarge my photo with a few clicks, a strange (to the Western eye) Nativity scene will open to you.
The fresco on the wall of St. Nikolas church shows a baby Jesus in swaddling clothes and another young Jesus being bathed by Mary's, shall we say, personal assistant.
Joseph is off to the side, looking worried.
And who is that guy in the black hairy coat?
There are some surprising answers in this rather "un-orthodox" post in a museum researcher's blog.
His post is titled "Have yourself a gloomy little Christmas: The traditional Nativity icon."
If you prefer a more religious interpretation, see the blog "A Reader's Guide to Orthodox Icons."
By the way, some say the ox and ass stand close to the manger to warm the baby with their breath.
That I quite like!
(Linking to inSPIREd Sunday.)