This icon was originally painted for the iconostasis of a Church in Messene, Sicily, but is now in the Byantine Museum in Athens. The famous Cretan iconographer, Michael Damaskenos, worked in Sicily between 1569 to 1573 and painted this icon at that time. It was a time of great artistic excellence and outpouring in Crete and in some of the other islands of present day Greece after the Fall of Constantinople by the Moslems in 1453. Since Islam is basically an iconoclastic (literally icon-smashing) religion, visual imagery was either strongly discouraged or often destroyed or whitewashed during the period when they were first ruling Eastern Europe. Many of the iconographers who were able to continue their iconography, therefore, came to live in places where this rulership was not yet in place after the Byzantine Empire fell.
The Virgin here is indicating, by her right hand that points to the Saviour, that He is “The way, the truth, and the life.” We, too, look to Him today with lively intent when we seek solace from the confusion and pain of modern worldly and limited daily life, which has no answers that strike resonance deeply in our hearts.