St. Nicholas Icons & the Holy Gospel Text
Icons of Saint Nicholas have a lot in common. Whenever Jesus and Mary are beside the central figure, bringing the Gospel Book and Omophorion, we know the icon is St. Nicholas. Their presence is unique to Saint Nicholas.
Other icons show St. Nicholas holding a book or maybe a scroll. Though usual for him, this isn't unique to St. Nicholas. Less often the book is open, with words written on it. Sometimes similar, sometimes not. The text is usually in Church Slavonic, or Greek, depending on the icon's source.
The text on Russian icons is usually from Luke 6.17:
He came down with them and stood on a level place with a great crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea, Jerusalem, and the coast of Tyre and Sidon.
This is taken from the Gospel reading at the liturgy for monastic saints and some hierarchs, including Saint Nicholas.
The next fresco is from the apse of the Monastery Church of St. Clement, Ohrid, North Macedonia. The text on the scroll is the priestly exclamation after the second prayer of the faithful in the Divine LIturgy:
That being guarded under thy dominion, we send up glory unto thee . . . .
This icon, from the St Onophorous Monastery in Hakeldama, south east of Jerusalem, has John 13:34:
A new commandment I give to you: love one another
St. Nicholas icons have differing texts, giving the saint varying messages.
With thanks to Dr. Vitaly Permiaklov, St Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary, Yonkers, New York.
Further reading: "An Essential Nicholas Text" from Icons and Their Interpretation