The Cathedral of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary in Monreale is often regarded as one of the wonders of the medieval world. It is a Norman church that resembles a fortress with its two towers. Inside, however it resembles a glittering heaven, made up of gold mosaics, decorated by master Byzantine craftsmen, brought to Sicily from the Byzantine Empire by King William II.
It wasn’t uncommon for foreign rulers to employ Byzantine artists. For instances, the interior of Islamic religious buildings were sometimes painstakingly decorated by Byzantine mosaicists because of their great abilities and skills. Two examples that are often mentioned, where Byzantine mosaicists were employed are, the interiors of the Dome of the Rock (691) and the Great Mosque, Cordoba (965).
As visitors to Monreale enter the Cathedral, the long aisle focuses the visitor’s attention on one image in particular, the Christ Pantocrator. It is truly impressive as the arms of Christ extend across the apse to welcome the faithful. In short, it is quite typical of most images of the depiction of the Christ Pantocrator. He is holding the bible in his left hand, while his right hand is raised in blessing. He certainly gives the impression of being ‘the Ruler of all’.
Photo credit: The Christ Pantocrator in the Cathedral of Monreale is by flickr user Felipe Garcia and is used under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial- No Dervis 2.0 license.