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Christ the High Priest

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Related Items:

Christ the High Priest Icon Card (CA8088)
Christ the High Priest Icon Holy Card (PCQ504)


Icon image of Christ the High Priest wearing a red chasuble and dalmatic, seated on a golden throne. A crown is upon his head. A crown of thorns is embossed in his halo. He holds an open book on his lap with the text "The Good Shepherd lays down his life for his sheep."

Wood-mounted icons are on 3/4" thick solid hardwood, typically poplar, with a tee-slot milled in the back for easy hanging on the wall. The wood is stained a traditional icon red, in keeping with Byzantine tradition. (Ancient icon board edges were frequently coated with red bole, a form of clay). Each wood-mounted icon comes with a descriptive pamphlet explaining the symbolism and history of the image.

Please allow 5-10 business days for orders of 20 or more icons.

Our icon designs are also available in sanctuary-size enlargements up to 38 inches wide. The latest technology enables enlargement without sacrificing quality. Call 800-889-0105 for pricing and ordering.

Theology and Symbolism

Christ the High Priest

Theology and Symbolism:
Christ is dressed in chasuble and dalmatic – the vestments of a bishop, representing the fullness of his priesthood. He is seated on a throne and wears a crown because He is both king and a priest—“a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedech” (Ps 110:4). Though a king, Christ emptied Himself of the dignity of His divinity; now he reclaims it (Phil 2:7ff). That He is risen we clearly infer from the wounds on His hands, and He is seen after the Ascension bringing the Sacrifice to the altar in heaven.

Christ holds in his lap an open gospel book, symbolizing the priestly ministry of proclaiming the Good News. The text visible on the book implies that to be a true shepherd like Jesus, the priest must be willing to give his life for his flock. The red vestments, wounds, archbishop’s pallium, and crown of thorns embossed in the halo all signify the self-emptying of Christ, a character of all who share in His ministerial priesthood.

Near Jesus’ halo is the christogram, an abbreviated form of his name and title; the curved line above the letters is called a titlo, a symbol in the Cyrillic alphabet denoting such important abbreviations. Christ’s right hand is raised in blessing, the customary Byzantine form representing the christogram “IC XC.” The cruciform portion of His halo bears the Greek word “HO ON” (partially obscured by the crown), which means “the one who is, [was, and who is to come]” (Rev. 1:8). The dark blue background—often seen in Byzantine fresco-icons—represents the uncreated light surrounding God that appears dark to us, while the gold in the halo reflects the light of heaven; “they will need no light from lamps or the sun, for the Lord their God will be their light” (Rev 22:5).

Christ gazes directly out to us with a benevolent expression, welcoming us into a relationship in which He encourages us to take up our cross, a burden that He makes light (cf. Mt 11:30). In each Eucharist the priest acts in the person of Christ who is Himself altar, victim, and priest of the New Covenant. Through the contemplation of this icon may priests come to identify more fully with the sacrificial love of the Good Shepherd, and may all the laity grow in the trust that is it Christ who acts in the Sacraments even in the human weakness of His priests.

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Proceeds from the Printery House help to support the monks of Conception Abbey and Conception Seminary College, where young men receive an accredited college education as they study in preparation for the Catholic priesthood.

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This site last updated: Thursday, March 23, 2017