The Virgin Mary is all-holy and all-pure, or Panagia in Greek. Because of this holiness and purity, and her active, conscious, and willing obedience to her Divine Son, Whom she recognized as God and Man, she has the closest possible relationship to Jesus Christ. This closeness is often shown in her icons where this relationship is expressed theologically in their tender embrace, for her life itself is an icon on how to best relate to God Incarnate. We who are her children in Christ (for He is the pattern for all of the human race at each soul’s creation), are included in this relationship with her when Christ says to St. John the Beloved Theologian, “Behold your mother!” She is thus our refuge in God.
Here in this icon the Lord presses His cheek to hers in love and affection. This is not just because of a chance relationship of parent and child, but because Christ had intense love and tenderness in recognition of her extreme dedication and obedience to His Word, which came to her in the Archangel Gabriel’s greeting, “Rejoice.....” She had to agree to this amazing request: that she will still remain all-pure, yet now be the living Birth-Giver of God.