Pantocrator (Maker of All Things)

Monastery of St. Catherine, Mount Sinai, 6th century

Written by Paula Howard, OSB

Mount St. Scholastica, October 2001

Sometimes called "The Icon of Christ"s Blessing," this icon shows Christ holding the jeweled Book of the Gospels while His right hand is raised in blessing. The original has been authenticated as dated from the 6th century, the earliest extant icon of Christ. Because, the naturalistic look contrasts with other icons of the Byzantine period, the unknown iconographer is believed to have been influenced by Greek art of that time. The image carries details of all early icons, however, notably the short forked beard and mustache, the abundant head of wavy hair, and the arched brows. This icon conforms to the type that aspires to show Christ as God-Man. The unfixed gaze of the eyes show Christ as God, looking to eternity. The natural features of the face and the tender expression show the mystery of Christ, a human being like one of us.

An inscription meaning "the lover of humankind" was later added to this icon by some unknown admirer.