Christ Pantocrator

What do you see?

What kinds of symbols are used in this icon?

I wonder what each of the symbols mean? (A list of meanings can be found at the end of the study)

Scripture: Revelation 1:7-8

Look! He is coming with the clouds; every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and on his account all the tribes of the earth will wail. So it is to be. Amen.

“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”

When you read this passage what image do you get of Jesus?

What other images do you have of Jesus from the bible that are different? Do they agree or disagree with this image from Revelation?


Icons are used to teach the faithful about God, to aid in prayer and help with meditation. In the 8th century there was a struggle between those who believed that icons provided the above benefits and those that saw them as idolatry. During the reformation, led by reformers like Zwingli and John Calvin, iconoclastic riots took place in many major European cities in order to purge the church of any idolatrous images. What do you think about using images in church? What kind of benefits or disadvantages might there be?

Christ Pantocrator is an orthodox icon or picture of Christ. Icons were first used in early Christianity to convey concepts from the bible through images to a population that was mostly illiterate. The oldest known icon of Christ Pantocrator is found in Saint Catherine’s Monastery on Mount Sinai and is from the 6th C. Many other icons of Christ exist and are still used today in Orthodox churches including those here in Prince George.

Pantocrator Iconography

 Pantocrator: Ruler of All

Pose: Jesus is presented in a half length pose, but in the full length pose he is seated on a throne.

Facial Features: The face of Jesus follows ancient traditions. The eyes are large and open, looking directly into the soul of the viewer. 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.

Book: With his left hand holding the Sacred Word. The book can either be open or closed. If the  book is open it’s generally showing a text from either the gospels or Saint John’s Revelation.

Right Hand: Raised in blessing. The hand gesture is exaggerated because Jesus is making the symbol of four letters: I, C, and X. This Christogram is an abbreviation for the name of Jesus Christ. In Greek, this is depicted as “IC XC”, which stands for “IHCOYC XPICTOC”. These abbreviations use the first and last letters of the words

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.

Halo: Iconographic symbol for sanctity, is inscribed with a cross and the Greek letters omicron, omega, nu, spelling “HO ON.” In English, this becomes “I Am,” the name used for God in Exodus 3:14. On the background is written “IC XC.”

Clothes: He is dressed in the traditional garb of tunic and cloak.

Cloak: Called in Greek a “himation” is dark blue signifying the sky or things that are heavenly.

Tunic: Purple and represents royalty