Icon of the Pantocrator (Mosaic) – J82


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Mosaic, Pantocrator


St. Sophia Church, Kiev, Ukraine


11th c. (Mid)


Here is a bold mosaic of Christ as “Pantocrator” (from the Greek “Ruler of All”) that was made in 1043-1046.  When the Russian peoples were converted to Orthodox Christianity from paganism in the very late 10th century by the East Romans of Byzantium, they inherited not only a religion per se, but an entire cultural expression of government, education, art, and commerce that was the direct inheritance of the classical Roman world that had been baptized itself by Christianity.  The artists from Constantinople came to Russian Kiev and built their first churches and decorated them with their first icons.  This icon is the result of that culturalization.  It is in the Church of St. Sophia in Kiev, named after the great Church of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople, the largest church or building in the world for over a thousand years.

Mosaic icons are made with specially polished glass or stone (often marble) pieces called tessera that are cut to fit into a pattern of image that represents the Lord, His Mother, a scene from the Gospels or the Parables, or one or more of the Saints.  They are inlaid, attached, often mortared, and make a comprehensive whole.