In the Apocalypse, Archangel Michael and his Heavenly Host fight angels of darkness, throwing them into a lake of fire (Revelations 12: 7-9). Throughout Russia’s history, the icons of heavenly warriors were an inspiration for Russian soldiers to fight against the enemy. From the mid-13th to late 15th centuries, Russian lands were under constant attack of the mobile Tartar-Mongolian armies who established their kingdom, the Golden Horde, in the lower reaches of the Volga. In regular punitive raids, Tatar-Mongolian warlords devastated Russian towns destroying the ancient treasures of its churches and murdering its people.
This icon features Archangel Michael who resembles a Russian soldier, shod in soft leather boots and dressed in medieval Russian dress with broad golden trims and a belt—a symbol of readiness for battle. He is surrounded by the angelic host, an army of angels, shown holding swords. The only exception is Archangel Gabriel at the far left of the panel, holding a blooming flower, his signature attribute.