One of the famous 16th century Stavronikita Festal set of icons, this icon depicts the Baptism of Jesus Christ at the River Jordan by St. John the Baptism and Forerunner. God the Father speaks while the Holy Spirit descends in the form of a dove upon Christ, now anointed for His public work on earth to preach the Gospel to the poor and bind up their wounds. We often forget that even the Angelic Hosts were amazed and looked with wonder as the Infinite God Whom they constantly worship appears humbly as a Man as He reveals mercy and love to our wounded human race.
The monk Theophanes the Cretan painted this set of icons on the iconostasis, or icon screen which separates the Bema, or sacred Altar, from the body of the Church, or Nave, where the Faithful stand for Divine Liturgy and other liturgical services. The set shows many of the most important events in the life of Jesus and the Church in its early and formative stage. This icon is the fourth in that set. Theophanes’ icons are considered masterpieces of iconographic art, still adorn the church at Stavronikita Monastery on Mount Athos, and show marvelous Cretan post-Byzantine form.