Icon of the Mosaic Face of Christ ( Detail of J33)(Sinai, 6th c.) – J34


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St. Catherine's Monastery, Sinai, Egypt


6th c. (Mid)


Here is a detail of Christ’s Face from the magnificent mosaic icon of the Transfiguration (F65) in the curved apse over the sanctuary of the main church at St. Catherine’s Monastery at the foot of Mount Sinai, finished about 550-565 by the command of the Roman Emperor Justinian the Great (527-565).  This is a sixth century treasure among the other iconographic and written treasures preserved at the monastery because of its dry climate, its lack of ever being conquered and ransacked, and also its being out of the political sphere of the iconoclastic Byzantine Emperors of the Iconoclastic (or icon-smashing) period from a.d. 726-843.

On Mount Tabor the Lord was Transfigured before His Disciples Peter, James, and John in the presence of the Holy Prophet Moses and the Holy Prophet Elijah (representing the Law and the Prophets).  The brightness of this Light blinded the Apostles and they fell down in fear at the overshadowing of the bright cloud and the voice saying “this is My Beloved Son, hear ye Him.”  Christ’s Face is radiant and suffused with transcendent Light and Glory.  May we receive this light into our hearts today!