The original model for showing Christ as a beautiful young angel with His hands crossed over His chest and a two- colored eight-pointed star in His nimbus or halo comes from a 14th century miniature in a manuscript (Codex Grecae 339) at St. Catherine’s Monastery at the base of Mount Sinai. This monastery has one of the greatest collections of ancient icons, codices, and books in the world because of its dry climate, continuous monastic habitation, and remote location that as yet has never been overrun by marauders, pirates, nomads, or iconoclasts. The figure of this icon is in reference to these verses from the Prophet Isaiah, “I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles. He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the street.” (Is. 42:1-2)
This particular 19th century Russian icon is now in the Ecclesiastical Academy in Moscow. Christ here reminds us that silence is not just the absence of sound, but the profoundly full language of Heaven, for St. Isaac says, “Silence is the language of the age to come.” May we, as he did, love silence above all things.