Eastern Orthodox Icons of the Entry into Jerusalem
Today, the entire Eastern Orthodox Church celebrates Palm Sunday marking the end of Lent and the beginning of Holy Week. It is one of the key events in Christian history known since antiquity and also one of the Twelve Great Feasts, which always falls on Sunday before Easter or Paskha. As you probably know, Palm Sunday celebrates the triumphal entry of Jesus Christ into Jerusalem, the scene depicted in all four Gospels. The same scene can be found in many Eastern Orthodox icons that are pretty common in churches and homes of Christian believers throughout the world. In this blog post, let’s take a closer look at the amazing Orthodox icons of the Entry into Jerusalem!
Eastern Orthodox icons of Palm Sunday
There are several iconographic types of Eastern Orthodox icons depicting the Entry into Jerusalem; however, they all are almost similar in composition. Jesus Christ is depicted in the center of the icon, sitting upon a donkey and heading toward Jerusalem. His invisible glory is represented by a halo, and the scroll in His hands means Holy Wisdom. It is worth noting that there are also variations of the Eastern Orthodox icons showing Christ on the colt’s back. There is nothing surprising about that as both animals are symbolic: a donkey is a symbol of peace while a colt is associated with the Gentiles, which means that Christ came not only for the Jews but for all nations.
The city of Jerusalem is usually depicted to the right of Christ, sometimes with the domed Temple topped by a Cross. The Mount of Olives is to the left. The Twelve Apostles headed by St. Peter and St. John follow the Messiah. In some Eastern Orthodox icons of Palm Sunday, Jesus Christ is depicted turning back to His disciples as if exhorting them to continue (see photo above).
If you look at Jerusalem’s gates, you will see the Hebrews waiting for Christ while children are laying down their clothes and palm branches (or local trees in Russian icons) before Him. This interesting detail can be found in all Eastern Orthodox icons of the Entry into Jerusalem. Its meaning is very simple: only children with their simplicity can praise the Lord with devotion and enthusiasm. As for adults, they tend to get distracted.
As you can see, Eastern Orthodox icons of Palm Sunday are not just beautiful religious icon paintings. They tell a whole story that is of great importance to the entire Christian world.