Icon of the Deisis (Sinai, 12-13th c.) – J35


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This is a 12th-13th century icon from the central position above the Holy Doors of the upper row of festal icons of the Twelve Great Feasts of the year on the iconostasis or icon altar screen at the main monastery church at St. Catherine’s Monastery at the foot of Mount Sinai.  Six of the feasts are set on either side of this icon.  

Here the Lord Almighty sits serenely on His Throne as the Ruler of the universe.  On Christ’s right hand stands the Virgin with her hands raised in supplication towards her Son and God, while St. John the Baptist stands on His left also supplicating.  Deisis means supplication, which is the title of this type of icon.  Deisis icons preserve the tradition that on the Day of Judgement the Virgin will appear with St. John the Baptist to intercede on behalf of us sinners and implore Christ to forgive and have mercy.  

In this icon we can see a distinct trait of icons painted at or for St. Catherine’s Monastery over a period of many years in that the gold of the halos are burnished in concentric circles around each head.  This reflects the light into two bars which move as the observer moves, like the reflection on a phonograph record. 

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Deisis, Enthroned


St. Catherine's Monastery, Sinai, Egypt


12th – 13th c.