Icon of Christ

I can't remember a time when it wasn't there.

an unnamed parishioner

Christos Pantocrator—2008

T

he icon was blessed during Mass celebrated by the Most Rev. John Boissonneau, Auxilliary Bishop of Toronto on the Feast of the Triumph of the Cross on Sunday, September 14, 2008.

Commissioned by the parishioners of Our Lady of Sorrows Church, Toronto, this beautiful work entitled "Christos Pantocrator" was painted (and not written) by Polish-Canadian artist Gregory Furmanczyk.

Greg's work features prominently in public and private collections around the world, including the House of Commons Heritage Collection in Ottawa. You may wish to peruse his works, some of which are available for viewing here.

Christos Pantocrator: A History

Pantocrator or Pantokrator (from the Greek Παντοκράτωρ) is one of many titles Christians give to Jesus.

The most common translation of Pantocrator is "Almighty" or "All-powerful". In this understanding, Pantokrator is a compound word formed from the Greek words for "all" and the noun "strength" (κρατος). This is often understood in terms of potential power; i.e., able to do anything, or omnipotent.

Another, more literal translation is "Ruler of All" or, less literally, "Sustainer of the World". In this understanding, Pantokrator is a compound word formed from the Greek for "all" and the verb meaning "To accomplish something" or "to sustain something" (κρατεω). This translation speaks more to God's actual power; i.e., God does everything (as opposed to God can do everything).

The Pantokrator, largely an Eastern Orthodox or Eastern Catholic theological conception is by that name less common in Western (Roman) Catholicism and largely unknown to most Protestants. In the West the equivalent image in art is known as Christ in Majesty, which developed a rather different iconography.

The oldest known surviving example of the icon of Christ Pantocrator was painted in encaustic on panel in the sixth or seventh century, and survived the period of destruction of images during the Iconoclastic disputes that racked the Eastern church, 726 to 787 and 814 to 842, by being preserved in the remote desert of the Sinai, in Saint Catherine's Monastery.

The iconic image of Christ Pantocrator was one of the first images of Christ developed in the Early Christian Church and remains a central icon of the Eastern Orthodox Church.

In some variants, on each side of the halo are Greek letters: ΙС and ХС. Christ's fingers are depicted in a pose that represents the letters ΙС, Х and С, thereby making the Christogram ΙСХС (for "Jesus Christ").