The holy monasteries of Mount Athos in northeastern Greece are repositories of much of the great culture and magnificent artistry they inherited from Byzantium, the center and queen city of the Eastern Roman Empire for more than a thousand years after Rome first fell to the barbarians in the early fifth century. The Emperor Constantine the Great had moved the seat of the Roman Empire there in A.D. 325. After Constantinople fell to the Ottoman Turks in 1453, works by great artists were still made in Crete and other outlying areas not yet under Moslem control.
This icon is one of those made by these iconographers working on Mount Athos in the 17th century. It is part of a two icon set (the other icon, our J 59) showing the Lord and His Mother enthroned, flanked by St. John the Theologian in this icon, and St. John the Forerunner in the other. They are as bright and fresh today as when they were painted. St. John, shown here as an old man, stands with his hands upraised in supplication (or Deisis) to his Lord Whom he loved dearly, as he is called even today the Beloved Disciple. Grant us abundant love for you, O Lord, by these prayers.