The Ladder of Divine Ascent by John Climacus

Region: Russia (Vyg)
Period: Ca. 1800
Size: 35 x 31 cm


The rare iconography of John Climacus describes the work of the Paradise Ladder of the monk who was the abbot of the Monastery of Catherine on Mount Sinai. This 7th-century text has been very important to Byzantine spirituality and describes the 30 monastic virtues that a monk must pass in order to approach God. These 30 steps are depicted on the icon as a high ladder reaching to heaven. The texts accompanying the ladder indicate the virtues, such as being penitent, being sincere and being quiet within. Monks climb up the ladder. On the left side of the ladder, a devil tries to tempt the monks so that they fall into the maw of hell. On the right, John Climacus is speaking to a group of monks and points them to the ladder. Heaven is beautifully depicted as a great building in which Christ and angels await the monks with crowns.