This 16th century icon is a part of a celebrated set of festal icons showing important events in the life of Jesus plus a few other renowned feasts of the year. It was painted by George the Cretan for the Holy Monastery of Dionysiou on Mount Athos, and together they are known to be great examples of Post-Byzantine Greek iconographic art. This icon is the 13th of that set of icons.
Fifty days after the Resurrection and ten days after Christ’ Ascension into Heaven, the Holy Spirit comes down on the Holy Apostles as flames of fire as they sit in the Upper Room waiting for the fulfillment of the promise that Christ gave to them. This anointing of the Holy Spirit gives the Apostles the power and wisdom to do Christ’s ministry of preaching the Gospels throughout the whole world. St. Paul is present also by anticipation in this icon, even though he was not present on that blessed day, and the center seat is open, for Christ is invisibly present and remains the head of the Church. The kings of this world are shown here symbolically in darkness beneath the Apostles’ feet, still enveloped in sin. May we choose to follow the Apostles now into Heaven.