Christ Pantokrator in the Byzantine Art of Italy

Christ Pantokrator in the Byzantine Art of Italy

Mario Baghos
School of Theology, Charles Sturt University
 
Abstract: The image of our Lord Jesus Christ as ‘Pantokrator' (Παντοκράτωρ, which means ‘ruler of all’), as depicted in the ecclesial space is existentially relevant because it portrays him as both transcendent master of the cosmos and immanent giver of peace; a state that all Christians are called to cultivate, through God’s grace and their own striving, in order to participate in the kingdom of heaven. This typically Byzantine image—while appearing in functioning Catholic churches throughout Italy—is part of the shared tradition of the undivided Church of the first millennium and is more frequently used in the Orthodox Church. This article addresses mosaics of the Pantokrator in the Byzantine art of Italy, specifically in the cathedral of St Mark’s in Venice, and in Sicily’s Cappella Palatina and Monreale cathedral. The article argues that the typically Orthodox image of Christ Pantokrator should inspire all Christians who include it in their artistic repertoires to bring it to the foreground, as the peace bestowed by the Pantokrator is especially needed in our tumultuous modern society.