One of the famous 16th century Stavronikita Festal set of icons, this icon depicts the Entry of Christ into Jerusalem while riding on the unbroken colt of a mare before which children strewed cloaks and branches and exclaimed “Blessed is He Whom comes in the Name of the Lord, Hosanna in the Highest!” This is a feast of great celebration, yet just six days later some of these same witnesses to Christ triumph would shout out to the Roman Governor Pilate, “Crucify Him, Crucify Him!” Even today when God does not fulfill our small-minded expectations, we, too, become angry.
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 seventh 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.