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"Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?"
This magnificent three-quarter length portrait of Jesus occupies a permanent place above the Blessed Sacrament Altar in the church at Mount Angel Abbey.
Icon greeting cards are single-fold cards printed on heavy stock, 4.38" x 5.93". The cards are blank inside for your own message or custom imprint and have an explanation of the history and symbolism of the icon printed on the back.
The original we have reproduced for you is a large, dramatic icon that holds a place of great honor in the church at Mount Angel Abbey in Oregon. It hangs just above the Blessed Sacrament altar. The image follows an ancient pattern known variously as Christ the Teacher or as Christ Pantocrator. (The word Pantocrator is Greek, meaning "Ruler of All.") Most versions show Jesus from the waist up. This one is unusual because it provides a 3/4 length view. The image expresses the central reality of the Christian faith; the Divine Majesty of the creator and ruler of all the world, made flesh and therefore visible to us in the person of Christ Jesus our redeemer. The oldest known icon of Christ Pantocrator was written in the sixth century and preserved in the remote monastery of St. Catherine in the Sinai desert. The location enabled the image to survive the destruction of most icons during the iconoclastic era in Byzantine history, (726 to 815 AD.)
In this image of Christ the Teacher, Jesus is presented in a 3/4 length pose, looking directly at the viewer, with his left hand holding the Sacred Word of God and his right hand raised in blessing. He is dressed in the traditional garb of tunic and cloak. His cloak, called in Greek a "himation" is dark blue signifying the mystery of His divine life. His tunic is a bright crimson red to signify His human blood shed for us all. The garments of the Messiah in Isaiah 63:1-4 were red, as was the soldier’s cloak put on Jesus’ shoulders during his passion (Matthew 27:28.) The arrangement of fingers on Jesus’ right hand raised in blessing is significant. Two different forms may be seen in iconography. These two forms date from a schism that split the Russian Orthodox church in 1667. Patriarch Nikon instituted reforms that a group of people who came to be known as the Old Believers refused to accept. In the Old Believer form; Thumb, ring finger and little finger are bent together symbolizing the divine and human natures of Christ, while the forefinger and slightly bent middle finger are held upright. The second, or State Church form used in this icon spells out Iesous Khristos, the Greek shortened form of Christ’s name, "IC XC." The index finger is more straight, forming the "I," the middle and little fingers are curved into "C" shapes, and the thumb and ring finger cross slightly to form the "X." Christ’s halo, the iconographic symbol for sanctity, is inscribed with a cross and the Greek letters omicron, omega, nu, spelling "HO ON." In English, this becomes "Who Am," the name used for God in Exodus 3:14. On the background is written "IC XC." The face of Jesus follows ancient traditions. The eyes are large and open, looking directly into the viewer’s soul. The forehead, identified as the seat of wisdom, is high and convex. The nose is long and slender, contributing a look of nobility. The mouth is small and closed in the silence of contemplation. The hair is curled and flowing, recalling the endless flow of time. The neck and body are powerful reminders of His strength and majesty.