Orthodox icon | Enthroned Christ Pantocrator | 24732.
In Russian iconography, it’s uncommon to see Christ depicted as a high priest in the Temple of Jerusalem. Yet, from the 14th century onwards, a specific image, termed the “three-figure” or “trimorphon” composition, began to resonate in icon artistry. This shows Christ in the attire of a bishop or archbishop, flanked by the Mother of God and John the Forerunner (John the Baptist in the Eastern Church).
This significant setup, called Deesis, occasionally presents the Mother of God as a young bride with a veil, but more frequently, she’s shown as a mature woman in a dark cloak. This imagery traces its roots to the Balkans and later permeated the Eastern Church, inspired by Psalm 45:10.
The icon’s imagery, featuring Christ in bishoply attire, emphasizes the Church’s core message: the Word of God incarnating in the Blessed Mother. Though the Mother of God might appear as a bride, Christ isn’t the bridegroom. He stands as the Church’s Lord, echoing the Eastern Church’s bishop title “ruler” (in Greek “despotes,” and Russian “vladika”).
Symbols of the four evangelists often enrich the icon: the angel, eagle, lion, and bull. These icons have biblical roots in Ezekiel’s Old Testament visions and John’s New Testament revelations. John’s depiction in the Book of Revelation showcases God’s throne encircled by four winged creatures. The idea to represent these symbols started with Roman mosaics.
The church father Jerome in the 4th century matched each symbol to an evangelist: the lion to Mark, the bull to Luke, the eagle to John, and the man or angel to Matthew. Jerome also set the New Testament’s Gospel sequence.
Collectively, the icon’s components offer deep theological insights, mirroring the Eastern Church’s longstanding traditions and doctrines.
Source: Orthodox icon | Enthroned Christ Pantocrator | 24732 © Ikonen Mautner. Typing errors, other errors or changes reserved. For more information: “Das Synaxarion. Die Leben der Heiligen der Orthodoxen Kirche.” (http://www.prodromos-verlag.de/buecher.html) and Joachim Schäfer: Das Ökumenische Heiligenlexikon – https://www.heiligenlexikon.de