Icon of Cain and Abel (Mosaic) (Sicily, 1180-90) – F142


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Church Feast Day 1





Monreale Cathedral, Sicily, Italy


12th c. (Late)


The Monreale Cathedral in Sicily, Italy is the location of this 1180-1190 mosaic Byzantine icon of Cain raising his hand to kill his brother Abel.  These two first sons of Adam and Eve were so estranged that it led to fratricide, and this was because Cain, the older brother and first-born of Adam, was jealous of Abel because God had respect to Abel’s offering to Him, but did not have respect for Cain’s offering.

The real underlying issue is brought out in these verses when God speaks to Cain before murder has happened and says, “Why art thou wroth?  and why is thy countenance fallen?  If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door” (Gen. 4:6-7).   Yet just after this interaction of God pointing out why Cain’s offering was not accepted, Cain met Abel in the field and killed him.   This is the pattern of sinners who do not wish to repent.  They blame others and they blame God, and to soothe their conscience that has thus been perverted, they justify the blame and wish to harm or shut up those that they are wronging, escalating the evil.  God preserve us from such evil!