The image of Christ as high priest-king constitutes a type of deep liturgical significance and is therefore suitable for iconostasis decorations. Our icon is found at the iconostasis of the chapel of Hosios Christodoulos and it seems that it wasn' t initially destined to decorate it, as evidenced by the disproportionate size of the image in relation to the iconostasis' frame.
On the gold ground lays the inscription: Ο ΒΑΣΙΛΕΥΣ ΤΩΝ ΒΑΣΙΛΕΥΟΝΤΩΝ ΚΑΙ ΜΕΓΑΣ ΑΡΧΙΕΡΕΥΣ. Christ is depicted in bust, wearing the hieratic vestments, blessing with the right hand and holding the open book with his left. Two passages are written in finely accentuated majuscules: Η ΒΑΣΙΛΕΙΑ Η ΕΜΗ ΟΥΚ ΕΣΤΙΝ ΕΚ ΤΟΥ ΚΟΣΜΟΥ ΤΟΥΤΟΥ ΕΙ ΕΚ ΤΟΥ ΚΟΣΜΟΥ (Μy kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world) ΛΑΒΕΤΕ ΦΑΓΕΤΕ ΤΟΥΤΟ ΜΟΥ ΕΣΤΙ ΤΟ ΣΩΜΑ ΤΟ ΥΠΕΡ ΥΜΩΝ ΚΛΩΜΕΝΟΝ ΕΙΣ ΑΦΕΣΙΝ ΑΜΑΡΤΙΩΝ (Take, eat; this is my body, which is broken for you for the remission of sins). These are the commonly used passages in this type of representation (John 18.36, Matth. 26.26, I Cor. 11.24), as they lay the foundation of the two natures of Christ that are depicted. Thus, the image of the King and of the High Priest is interconnected with the idea of the Pantocrator and of the Eucharist. This is further symbolized by the crown and the hieratic vestments respectively.
Even though there are early wall-paintings of this type, it only appears in icons like ours, portrayed in bust, after the fall of Constantinople (1453) and belongs to the Cretan cycle. It seems that there was a Cretan prototype of unequalled quality that served as an example for the later works down to the smallest detail, as are the “parapendoulia” that hang from the mitre-crown. Our icon follows the type but presents a uniqueness concerning the crown-mitre, that seems to be an element of archaism: it consists of two rows of sheets of gold, joined in panels. This is nowhere to be found in other icons of this type, who follow a 14th and 15th century type of crown, with high cloth, puffing out roundly and decorated with gold stitching or adjusted ornaments. The evidence of the -byzantine in origin- low form of the metallic crown in 15th century Crete, comes from a miniature of the emperor Nicephoros Phocas (963-969) in a 15th century codex with Latin documents concerning the island.
The utmost precision in the application of the layers of highlights as well as the white upright line that shapes the shade of the nose are to be found in the Christ icon of the Monastery's Treasury, painted by Andreas Ritzos. It is, thus, possible that Ritzos was the creator of the image's prototype and our icon a product of his workshop.
It is worth noticing that the colour in the area of Christ's hand has suffered severe damage from the kisses of the believers, a common expression of faith and veneration in Christian Orthodoxy.