Deesis is a traditional Byzantine iconographical type composed by Christ in Majesty flanked by the Virgin and Saint John the Baptist (sometimes other saints and angels as well). This icon is placed on the episcopal throne of the Monastery’s Catholicon and preserves its original frame, with Renaissance-style gold vine motifs.
Christ, as High Priest, is wearing a royal crown and sitting on two cushions on a wooden throne. In his left hand he holds the gospel book open and upright, so that both passages can be read. The Virgin stands to his right and John the Baptist to his left, both turning at him in a pose of deesis, a supplication on behalf of humanity. Each one of them holds an unrolled scroll inscribed in small black, accentuated, capital letters. The texts written on them are found with minor variations in the Hermeneia of Dionysios from Fourna.
The figures are excessively tall, a characteristic feature in the representations of Deesis of the Cretan cycle. The modelling displays broad lightened areas, hard shadows and angular drapery. These characteristics attest to the fact that the artist tries to return to traditional modes of depiction, combining them with the novelties of the ‘modern’ Cretan art, a common phenomenon in this period. The attempt is achieved here by the painter’s excellent skill and knowledge of the old methods. His high competence is further attested by the harmonious use of colours and the remarkable precision in rendering Christ’s luxurious vestments.