The Transfiguration at Queen of Angels Monastery

by Sister Hilda Kleiman, OSB

The chapel of Queen of Angels Monastery has two large icons written by the instructors and students of the Iconographic Arts Institute.  The Transfiguration was completed and blessed in 2006, and the Protecting Veil of the Mother of God was added to the chapel in 2008.

The icon of the Transfiguration at Queen of Angels Monastery

Icons and Saints of the Eastern Orthodox Church (public library), one of the texts I use for History of Art, gives a concise explanation of the iconography found in every icon of the Transfiguration.  Each icon includes Christ between Elijah and Moses, as well as the apostles Peter, James, and John.

Christ with Elijah and Moses at the top of the icon.

James, John, and Peter at the bottom of the icon.

The Scripture sources for the icon of the Transfiguration are passages from the Synoptic Gospels, Matthew, Mark, and Luke:

And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain apart.  And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his garments became white as light.  And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him.  And Peter said to Jesus, "Lord, it is well that we are here; if you wish, I will make three booths here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah."  He was still speaking, when lo, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him."  When the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces, and were filled with awe.  But Jesus came and touched them, saying, "Rise, and have no fear."  And when they lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only.  - Matthew 17:1-8 (RSV)
And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves; and he was transfigured before them, and his garments became glistening, intensely white, as no fuller on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses; and they were talking to Jesus.  And Peter said to Jesus, "Master, it is well that we are here; let us make three booths, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah."  For he did not know what to say, for they were exceedingly afraid.  And a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice came out of the cloud, "This is my beloved Son; listen to him."  And suddenly looking around they no longer saw any one with them but Jesus only. - Mark 9:2-8 (RSV)
Now about eight days after these sayings he took with him Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray.  And as he was praying, the appearance of his countenance was altered, and his raiment became dazzling white.  And behold, two men talked with him, Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory and spoke of his departure, which he was to accomplish at Jerusalem.  Now Peter and those who were with him were heavy with sleep but kept awake, and they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him.  And as the men were parting from him, Peter said to Jesus, "Master, it is well that we are here; let us make three booths, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah" - not knowing what he said.  As he said this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were afraid as they entered the cloud.  And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, "This is my Son, my Chosen, listen to him!" And when the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. - Luke 9:28-36 (RSV)

Detail of Christ from the Transfiguration


Details of Elijah and Moses in the Transfiguration


Details of James and John in the Transfiguration

Detail of Peter in the Transfiguration

Icons and Saints of the Eastern Orthodox Church also includes the Troparion, a short Orthodox hymn, for the Feast of the Transfiguration on August 6:

Thou wast transfigured on the mountain, O Christ our Lord, and Thy disciples beheld Thy glory as far as they were capable, that when they should see Thee crucified, they might know that Thy suffering was voluntary and might proclaim to the world that Thou art indeed the reflection of the Father.