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The Good Samaritan

On the inside of the iconostasion at Sinai, there is a depiction of the Parable of the Good Samaritan. On the right, a man sets out from Jerusalem, bound for Jericho. But thieves rob him, leaving him wounded and half dead. A priest, and then a Levite, see him, and pass by on the other side. A Samaritan sees him, and takes pity on him. In the traditional iconography, it is Christ who is the Good Samaritan, anointing the wounded man with wine and oil, and bearing him to the inn. The inn is the Church, and the innkeeper is Saint Paul, who received all, and cared for them with untiring diligence. Christ enjoins his ministers in every age, Take care of those who have been wounded in the perils of this life. Heal them, and provide shelter for them, ‘and when I come again, I will repay thee’ (Luke 10:35).

The lower part of the depiction is obscured by the silver reliquary made for the relics of Saint Catherine in Moscow in 1688, and given to the monastery by the Tsars Ivan and Peter together with their older half-sister Sophia Alexeyevna.

4 comments to The Good Samaritan

  • Richard Saloom

    Dear Father Justin,
    This is a very moving depiction of the Good Samaritan.
    What time period was it made? There seems to be some damage to the Icon, especially around the robbers and the Good Samaritan. What is the nature of the damage?
    Does St. Catherine’s have a restoration program?
    Thank you Father for allowing me to see this.

    • Father Justin

      Scholars have come to Sinai to study the earliest icons. In general, they have not been interested in these later works. The depiction of the Parable of the Good Samaritan probably dates from the eighteenth century. Most of the flaking is along cracks in the wood, which has caused the layers of gesso and pigment to lose their cohesion. There was some conservation of icons here in the 1960s, but currently there is no program. Conservators always find better ways, and regret earlier interventions. We can be patient. When an icon has areas where the paint has fallen off and the underlying gesso is showing, the gesso can be tinted so that it blends in with the surrounding colours. This is a very minimalist intervention.

  • Maria

    A very moving depiction!
    Thanks a lot father Justin

  • Jeremy

    Some of the grey rocks remind me of Italian ones in Tuscany .The medieval depictions from there are not as stylised as one might believe , as I had done as a boy studying artbooks.

    If only the patient approach could prevail more in this world !

    Luke maybe really was a painter of the Light and Icons .

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