This is a photo of a portrait of Christ that is on display in the dining hall at Blue Cloud Abbey in Northeast South Dakota. It is unsigned, and is painted on what appears to be a flat stone, with relatively straight sides & bottom, and an irregular top. Below the stone is a typed note that reads as follows:
The two Greek words around the halo of this
Good Shepherd Christ figure translate
Lover of Mankind, Benevolent Master
They are in the direct address case,
the form used in the opening of a prayer.
Spelled phonetically in English, they are:
Phi – AN – thro – peh, DESS – po – tah.
I spent a night at Blue Cloud as part of a spiritual retreat with Leadership Central, a leadership training program at our church. The painting first caught my eye during breakfast, and I lingered afterward to study it a bit. It became the center of my meditation later that day, and its unique representation of Jesus’ character still strikes me as profound.
Most pictorial representations of Christ show him older than this does, and with a full beard & long hair… you know, the old stereotypical Christ figure. Here you see a portrait of a young Middle-Eastern man; dark complexion, sharp features, dark curly hair, which is likely much closer to what Jesus of Nazareth actually looked like. And the names in the halo; not what one expects, but accurate nonetheless.
more on my meditation later.