Icon - Christ "The Good Shepherd"

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One of the most popular and beloved Christian Orthodox Icons from the most ancient times is the Orthodox icon of the Good Shepherd. As you look at Christ beautifully holding a sheep on his shoulder you are instantly taken to the Gospel of St. John, chapter 10, “I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd lays down his life for the sheep..I am the Good Shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me.”

This Orthodox icon is one of the most ancient as it adorned the catacombs of ancient Rome where the persecuted Christians celebrated their Liturgy. The image of the Good Shepherd is the most common of the symbolic representations of Christ found in Early Christian art in the Catacombs of Rome, before Christian imagery could be made explicit. The image continued to be used in the centuries after Christianity was legalized in 313. Initially it was probably not understood as a portrait of Jesus, but a symbol like others used in Early Christian art, and in some cases may also have represented the Shepherd of Hermas, a popular Christian literary work of the 2nd century. However, by about the 5th century, the figure more often took on the appearance of the conventional depiction of Christ, as it had developed by this time, and was given a halo and rich robes, as on the apse mosaic in the church of Santi Cosma e Damiano in Rome, or at Ravenna (right). Orthodox Christian icons of the Good Shepherd often include a sheep on his shoulders, as in the Lukan version of the Parable of the Lost Sheep.

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