7 What a delicate mission it is to give an image of Christ! How ambitious! How can anyone depict God? God made man, yes, but God after all. Our Jewish brethren, and also Muslims, took a path without icons: God cannot be depicted, therefore he must not be. This question is posed in different terms for Christians who adore an incarnate God. By this very incarnation, doesn’t God give us an image of himself? What are we to do, then, about the Second Commandment of the Decalogue, uttered twice in the Old Testament? You shall not make for yourself a graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth (Ex 20:4; Dt 5:8). These questions legitimately perturbed the theorists of the first era of Christianity. A painted or sculpted image was in effect an aid to devotion and an essential instructional tool for the early Christian communities even before the establishment of written sources, which for a long time would remain difficult for most believers to access. The image was also a valuable vehicle for spreading this new faith. Before depicting Christ under his human appearance, artists drew his name in the form of a fish, ichthus, a Greek acronym for “Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior.” Very soon the first Christian iconographic sources were devoted to the figure of Christ, the heart of the Gospel message. Nevertheless, artists represented Christ and not the life of Christ. He is shown as a philosopher, clothed in a toga, without any particular scenery, or as the Good Shepherd. This approach, which focused above all on the human nature of Jesus Christ, did not prevent the emergence of depictions of Christ the Pantocrator, in other words, Christ in glory, in Byzantine mosaics. The emphasis is then on the divine nature of Christ, represented in his glorified body. As the iconography budded spontaneously, the new developments would quickly be called into question and their legitimacy would be debated. The violence of the iconoclastic quarrel that perturbed the Byzantine Empire starting in the year 726 testifies to the crucial matter at stake in this question. The very existence of depictions of God-made-man gave rise to confrontations between Christians within the Eastern Roman Empire. The iconodules, who advocated the depiction of the divinity, were opposed by the iconoclasts, who condemned it. The century was scarred by the repeated destruction of images and by successive and reciprocal persecutions. The question was partly resolved during the Second Council of Nicaea in 787, which reestablished the devotional use of images and officially authorized the veneration of sacred images. Until around the 13th century, artists developed the image of a powerful, triumphant Christ, whose face is calm even on the cross. Then works appeared that let the faithful see the image of a suffering, emaciated Christ on the cross, his body deformed by the ill treatment of the Passion. The humanity of the Son of God takes flesh in human weaknesses, in our fears and sufferings. His face, lowered, sometimes goes so far as to take on the appearance of a death mask. These