Depictions of Christ as a high priest in the Temple of Jerusalem are very rare and do not appear on icons at all. On the other hand, from the 14th century onwards, a picture enjoyed increasing popularity in icon painting, which as a “three-figure” (Greek “trimorphon”) composition shows Christ in the full vestments of a bishop or archbishop, flanked by the Mother of God and John the Forerunner (John the Baptist’s name in the Eastern Church), thus represents a form of Deesis. It is not uncommon for the Mother of God to be portrayed as a young bride with a bridal veil. The predominant image, however, is the representation as a mature woman with a dark shawl. This composition has spread from the Balkans throughout the Eastern Church area. It is based on Ps 45, 10: ” At your right hand the queen stands in gold of Ofir”
The icon depicting Christ with bishop’s insignia, with sceptre and globe, seeks to express the message of the Church, whose mystery is based on the Word of God made flesh in the body of the Blessed Mother. The Mother of God can also be represented as a young bride, but never Christ as bridegroom. He appears as lord of the church (and thus Mary) in the form of a bishop, just as the bishop in the Eastern Church bears the title “ruler” (Greek “despotes”, Russian “vladika”).
Above: Cherubim and two angels with a text scroll: “Christ the King of Justice, King of Kings, Lord of Lords.” Above: God the Father.