One of the famous 16th century Stavronikita Festal set of icons, this icon depicts the Crucifixion of the God-Man Jesus Christ on the Cross, previously the symbol of man’s greatest shame and degradation, reserved for the execution of the worst criminals under the Roman Law. Prefigured by Moses’ Staff at the Red Sea, and the lifting up of the bronze serpent in the Wilderness, the Cross is the new Tree of Life for all Christians and has great power against all forms of evil. The Virgin Mary, with the Myrrh-Bearing Women, St. John the Beloved, and the Centurion Longinus look on.
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 eighth 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.