Icons of Jesus Christ “The Good Shepherd”
The image of Christ as a young shepherd is a long-standing symbolic image derived from the New Testament. Icons of Jesus “The Good Shepherd” are quite rare; however, they are an essential part of Christian art. The motif of Christ the Shepherd with a sheep on Jesus’ shoulders was the main image of God in human form throughout the 2nd – 4th centuries. However, it soon disappeared and appeared again centuries later, mainly in stained-glass windows and religious sculptures that are now displayed in Western European churches.
Rare icons of Jesus Christ “The Good Shepherd”
The image of Christ as Shepherd is not simply a portrait icon, but rather an allegorical image of the Lord who is the Teacher and the Savior of the entire human race.
Antique icons of Jesus “The Good Shepherd” depict a beardless young man carrying a straying sheep on His shoulders. Sometimes, in Christ icons of this type, one can also see a cane, a flute, or a rod. The head of the shepherd is uncovered; He is dressed in a belted tunic. A halo and a monogram of the name of Jesus Christ are depicted above the shepherd. The sheep that Christ is holding on His shoulders symbolizes the lost human soul for the salvation of which Jesus suffered on the cross. Some icons “The Good Shepherd” feature nail wounds on Christ’s hands.
It is also interesting that Christ portrayed as a young shepherd is often compared to David, who was a simple shepherd before his reign in Judea.
Despite such interpretations, icons of Jesus Christ “The Good Shepherd” are not canonical and, therefore, rarely met in traditional Russian icon art. However, the image of Christ the Shepherd is still an important element of Christian doctrine. In fact, it was one of the first symbolic images of Jesus Christ as a human. Some early examples of “The Good Shepherd” can now be found in the catacombs of Rome and Naples in Italy and Sousse in Tunisia.
People turn to “The Good Shepherd” icons when they need to find the right path, as well as before going on a long journey. Despite their rarity, icons of Jesus Christ of this type are still found in the homes of Christian believers who preserve them as mediators between the earthly world and the Kingdom of God.