Christ Pantocrator (Sinai)
This is the earliest known icon of Christ, known as Christ Pantocrator (Pantocrator = ‘all’ ‘powerful’). It was painted approximately 550 AD at St. Catherine’s monastery in Egypt.
In this intriguing piece of art, the two different facial expressions emphasize Christ’s two natures: God and man. You can see the distinction more clearly in a photoshoped version which gives a complete rendering of each side by mirroring them.
This famous icon of the Savior was a gift of the Emperor Justinian to the Monastery in the 6th century. The Emperor gave the funds for the building and embellishment of the Monastery church which was constructed of local materials. It is most likely that the Emperor commissioned this icon in Constantinople to be sent and his personal contribution to the decoration of the sanctuary.