Icon of St. John the Baptist (Dionysiou) – S297


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Euphrosynos the Cretan


16th c. (Mid)


Dionysiou Monastery, Mt. Athos, Greece


A part of the wonderful set of icons called the Great Deisis from Holy Dionysiou Monastery on Mount Athos, which includes Our Lord Jesus Christ (J52), the Theotokos (T59), St. Peter (S299) and St. Paul (S298), these masterpieces were painted in a.d. 1542 by Euphrosynos the Cretan.  Here St. John the Baptist is shown reaching out in supplication to his Lord Jesus Christ in intercession for us.  As he points to his right, so St. John the Forerunner is seated on Christ’s left in His Heavenly Kingdom, and the Virgin Mary is on His right.  This is why the Lord did not promise the sons of Zebedee these positions, as they were appointed for the greatest man and woman of history born before Him.   Dedicated and committed to God from the womb, St. John came in the spirit of Elijah.

Deisis icons are quite common in sets on the iconostasis, or icon screens, in many Orthodox monasteries and churches.  This intercession of the Saints for us in love to the Saviour is an expression of the Communion of the Saints, which is the condition of all the Faithful who have come to live in Heaven.  May we begin to experience this love and intercession even now on earth!