The Crucifixion of St. Catherine's Monastery

Sinai Peninsula, Egypt


From their introduction, depictions of the crucifixion of Christ have been a powerful communication tool. Early in the history of this image, Christ is often depicted alive and enduring relatively little pain in an attempt to communicate a message about His divinity, future resurrection, and faith rather than recount the brutal realities of this method of execution. Later on, the images tended to depict Christ's suffering and death upon the cross in an effort to inspire a deep emotional response from the viewer, whose worship is mediated by a more naturalistic display of the event. This icon, from St. Catherine's monastery in the Sinai peninsula, originates in the 13th century CE and functions as an icon generally known as the "Five Holy Wounds." Though late in the history of the Byzantine Empire, this image provides an idea of how icons and images could mediate worship and communicate doctrine.

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