Icon of Judas’ Betrayal of Christ (Vatopedi, 14th c.) – F150


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Movable Church Feast Day 1

Great & Holy Friday




Vatopedi Monastery, Mt. Athos, Greece




14th c.


This is a remarkably well-preserved example of a 14th century Byzantine fresco of the Palaeologan School on the wall of the exonarthex in the main church at Vatopedi Monastery on Mount Athos.  It is a very clear example of the iconographic convention to show those who are influenced by evil in profile and with distorted figures, while those who are saints and others not doing evil are shown with both eyes visible and peaceful faces.  In the lower part of the icon Christ and St. Peter are peaceful, and Christ is even mercifully looking at Judas who has put his arm around Him to betray Him with a kiss.

Above, the three middle figures are peaceful, too, but sad, while the other two figures are distorted with anger.  There is a deeper meaning to this iconographic convention.  For those whose faces are turned towards God with hope, have nothing to hide, even if they have sinned and yet are repenting, for all of us born on earth have sinned except Jesus Christ.  On the other hand, those who are listening to evil in their hearts always have a hidden side of malice which distorts them, as they are estranged from God.