Russia Religion Subjects New Testament St John the Baptist

St John the Baptist

St John the Baptist was the last prophet of the Old Testament. He predicted the coming of the Messiah and baptised Christ in the River Jordan. The image of John the Baptist played an important role in the Deisus tier of the iconostasis. He stands before the throne of the Almighty Saviour and Judge of Mankind, holding a scroll with the words: “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near” (Matthew 3:2). The words of the prophet were perceived with particular poignancy in Russia, where he was synonymous with eschatological notions of the world beyond the grave.

Besides his image as a fervent preacher and holy martyr, John the Baptist was associated in medieval Russia with asceticism, fasting and reclusion. His lifestyle was regarded as an ideal reflection of monastic contemplation and the apogee of the rank of angels. Such concepts naturally influenced his iconography and Russian icons depicted John the Baptist as the embodiment of wisdom – spiritual, contemplative, philosophical, strong and dignified.

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