portraits of Christ


No authentic likeness of Our Lord exists. He has been the subject of art from the earliest times. In the Lateran is preserved the “portrait made without hands'” (achiropoeta) according to tradition. Many portraits have been based on two descriptions, one by John of Damascus (8th century), the other purporting to be by the fictitious Publius Lentulms, Pilate’s predecessor in Judea. The early Christians represented Christ symbolically as the Lamb, the Dove, and especially the Fish, the Greek name for which is a compound of the initial letters of five Greek words for Jesus Christ, God’s Son, Saviour. Symbols of Christ the Good Shepherd are found in the catacombs. During the 4th and 5th centuries an effort was made to portray Christ in reliefs and mosaics upon sarcophagi. From the 6th to the 10th, Byzantine art portrayed Our Lord for the most part in mere types, lacking life, expression, and inspiration. From the 10th century on, the portraits of Christ have advanced in proportion with the development of art, the most distinguished portraits coming from the various schools of the Renaissance.

MLA Citation

  • “portraits of Christ”. New Catholic Dictionary. CatholicSaints.Info. 8 August 2013. Web. 26 February 2021. <>