The most impressive and truly imposing icon of the Lord is the "Almighty" icon. It is usually found in frescoes, murals and portable icons. This icon portrays divine omnipotence, because with the portrayal of the incarnate Christ, it projects God, who " is all-holding and all-bearing " (Theophilos of Antioch, LGF 5,14).
The icon of the Almighty is found in two styles of portrayal: In one, the Lord is portrayed full-length and seated on His throne of glory. With His one hand he blesses and with the other hand He holds an open Bible, on which is written: ' Come to me, all of you who are laboring and weighed down, and you shall find repose in your souls. Lift my load upon yourselves, and learn from me, that I am docile and humble at heart; my yoke is virtuous and my load is light. ' (Matthew 11, 28-30) In other icons, the Bible is opened at another excerpt.
The other style of the Almighty's icon shows the upper half of His body; it is a portrayal of His bust within a circle. The Bible that he holds in His one hand is usually closed.
The second style of icon usually adorns the dome of Byzantine churches. This is not a coincidence. As noted elsewhere (chapter on Byzantine Temples), the crucifix-shaped Byzantine church with a dome symbolizes the entire world, the heavens and the earth. The heavens are symbolized by the dome and the earth is symbolized by the floor of the church.
The face of the Almighty represents God the Father as well as the Son (as we have already said, in Byzantine art the Father is usually represented by the Son). When looking upon the icon of the Almighty, we are looking at the Creator of the world, its Savior and its Judge. With His so expressive look, the Almighty embraces and supervises the world, which He governs with His providence.
The inscriptions on the circumference of the dome are also related to the above symbolism of divine supervision. In the icon that we shall be describing, the inscriptions say: " My Lord, my Lord, survey us from the heavens above, and observe, and visit this vineyard that was planted by Your right hand, and prepare it accordingly ." (Psalms 79, 15-16). " and send us the Grace of Your Holy Spirit upon those dwelling in this house ".
It is worthwhile for the faithful to stand under the dome for a few minutes and observe the Almighty. They will notice that - if their conscience is light - the divine expression that looks back at them is happy, sweet and affable. If their conscience is heavy, the Almighty's expression will be furious, piercing and remonstrative... (Nicholas Mesarites, Metropolitan of Ephesus, 12 th century).
Description of the icon. The Almighty depicted in our icon is a mural in the Holy Monastery of Saint Nicholas Anapafsa of Meteora, painted by the Cretan artist Theofanis (1527 A.D.)
Given that this style of portrayal of the Almighty is the most established in Byzantine art, we shall allow the principal reviver of Byzantine painting in our country, the memorable Fotis Kontoglou to describe the icon.
"The Almighty is portrayed as stern and gentle at the same time. His apex is always pointing towards the east, that is, towards the realm of the sun, as though the Sun of Justice were rising from the east.
He is wearing a robe on the inside, allowing part of His naked chest to show, while He is wrapped in a densely pleated robe on the outside, which reminds of David's psalm that says: "The abyss surrounds Him like a mantle". His right hand is lifted in a gesture of blessing and His left is holding closely the Bible, the divine Law.
His majestic head is framed by a lush head of hair; it is slightly wavy, and the locks of hair fall like streams of a river over His left shoulder, and are parted in the middle.
The Lord's forehead is regal, full of wisdom and power. His eyes are alert and tranquil; they look upon the humble with philanthropy and condescension, yet with austerity upon the wicked and the proud.
His nose is long and thin. His mouth is small and stern. The mustache is sparse and symmetrical; it grows in a downward direction in the typical Asian way that denoted gentleness. His beard is combed and symmetrical and slightly parted at the end. His neck is broad and solid, as is the portion of His exposed chest, which is naked.
A scent of spiritual fragrance emanates from all of the characteristics of the Lord. From His immaculate peak and His hair emanates a modest majesty. His eyes emanate love but also the austerity of one who "examines hearts and viscera". His nose denotes directness and mercy; His mouth denotes peace and forgiveness; His cheeks denote simplicity and innocence; from His neck and His chest, mercy and compassion; from His right hand, benediction and virtue. From His left hand that firmly holds the holy Bible, a life-giving Law emanates, which relieves the labourers and the burdened. His turned chin displays docility and tolerance. From His chin flows the myrrh of sainthood. From His robe that embraces Him like a cloud hiding the sun, the majesty of all emanates forth.
The almighty imbues the pious soul with every religious sentiment, given that He is indeed Great, Powerful, Maker of all, Overseer of all, Placid, Philanthropist, Saviour, Judge, Humble, Austere, Merciful. As per the words of the prophet Ezekiel: "The Mighty Eagle, the Great-Winged", who hovers above the corroded world, eternal, and incorruptible. For Him, 'a thousand years are like yesterday, which has passed by'. He is like a heavy cloud upon the wicked, but for the faithful and the humble He is the Immortal Sun, the Source of Life, the Life-Giver. They raise their eyes up to Him, shouting joyfully: 'In the light of your face's glory, we shall venture forever.'
Up there, He is constantly alert, day and night, morning and evening, winter and summer, unaltered, eternal, before all time and for all time. The perceptible sun rises and sets; however, the Lord does not tire from blessing the sinful world, from His permanent place of residence.
Winds blow noisily around the sanctified tower in which the Lord resides. Rain, ice, snow, hail and the spirit of the storm pass over Him. He, the Lord of Peace, extends His blessing serenely and forbearingly. The sun scorches His place of residence; the hot wind burns the grass that has covered His roof. Undisturbed, the Lord stands alert over the world, day and night, forever and ever.
'In the beginning, You, Lord, set the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of Your hands; They shall pass away, but You shall remain forever; everyone will become old as a garment does, and you shall wrap them around you like a robe and they will be transformed. You, however, are the same, and You shall never be lacking in years."
Inside the dome, the Almighty is not alone. Around its border, the heavenly divine Liturgy is depicted, with Christ Himself ministering (we see Him dressed in hierarchal robes, behind the Holy Altar). He is enveloped in glory, accepting the respects paid by the two angels that are bowing before Him. Behind them, follow the other accompanying angels of the Great Entrance procession. They are holding fans, the Divine Gifts, and the "Air" cloth, on which Christ is depicted in death.
Around the circumference of the dome, below the Divine Liturgy, the prophets are portrayed with their opened scrolls. In our icon, we can see at far right the head of King Solomon and his scroll, which says: "the souls of the righteous are in God's hand, and no torment shall befall them" (Solomon's Wisdom, 3,1) This is the phrase from one of the opening verses read during Vespers, during saints' feast days.
The icon of the Almighty is a solace to the faithful. God's omnipotence arms them with courage and grants them patience. They are not alone in their sorrows and their agonies. The Almighty God is their support and their comrade-in-arms, during their fights against evil and sin. This is why - together with the hymn-writers of our Church - they cry out to Him:
"Lord of powers, be with us; we have no other helper but You, in times of sorrow; Lord of powers, have mercy on us"