During the reign of the Emperor Justinian the Great (527-565), who codified and amplified the whole breadth of Roman Law which is the foundation of modern law, there was an attempt also to extend and consolidate the Roman Empire in both East and West and many important buildings were built including Hagia Sophia (Holy Wisdom) in Constantinople. Also at that time the fortress of St. Catherine’s Monastery was built in the Sinai peninsula and enclosed the main monastery church in honor of the Virgin Mary Theotokos.
This icon is a detail of the mosaic of the Transfiguration (F65) in the apse of the church over the main altar and is representative of the last phase of sacred art in this Justinian period (550-565). Light rays in this icon are emanating outward from Christ. According to the teaching of the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Light of the Transfiguration is the Glory of God, and Its reception into the soul is the highest and complete ideal, set for each man that comes into this world. The sacred monastic ideal is often held as a means to more directly approach a life seeking this blessedness.