Icon of Christ “of the Burning Eye” (Moscow, 17th c.) – J42


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There is an old Orthodox Christian saying that “in the icon the body is simply the support of the face, the face but a setting for the gaze.”   This is definitely true in the case of this icon.  In Russia icons that portray Christ as He appears from on high, with His Face threatening and severe as He is the Lord and Judge of the Universe, have been called the “Saviour of the Burning Eye.”  

In Christ’s halo or nimbus, in the faded cross are the words in Slavonic for “I AM” as He is the same Lord Who spoke to Moses and told him to tell the Israelites when they asked what is God’s name, “I AM THAT I AM” and He said, “Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.”  God is not just wise, eternal, and all-powerful as we understand these things from our own human point of view, but the Ever-Existent One, and the very ground of existence itself.  It is this existence that God Himself invites us to participate in more fully in our loving relationship with Him and the Truth that He shines forth.

We see both justice and Divine Mercy in His Face as He is both human and Divine in nature.  May we be filled with both!

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Of the Burning Eye


17th c. (Mid)