Ladder of Divine Ascent icon
This icon is connected with the well-known spiritual classic book entitled The Ladder of Divine Ascent by Saint John Climacos, of the seventh century. His memory is celebrated on March 30 and on the Fourth Sunday of the Great Lent, and the icon is usually venerated in churches on the same days.
In the icon, a ladder stands on the earth and reaches to Heaven. Monks are seen trying to clime the ladder, and tinny winged demons are seen pulling them off. Over the top of the ladder is Christ, emerging from Heaven.
At the right side of the scene is shown a monastery building. Standing outside its door is Saint John Climacos. His right hand points at the ladder and watching monks stand behind him. In his left hand he holds a scroll on which is written: "Ascend, ascend, Brethren."
The top left corner, opposite the monastery are Angels shown clothed in light colored garments and large, strong wings.
Saint John describes thirty stages of spiritual development in his book. He likens the stages to thirty steps upward on a ladder. The steps lead to theosis, the ultimate goal of the spiritual striver. The icon was inspired by this book.
Just as St. John’s book, the icon stands as a witness to the violent effort needed for entrance into God's Kingdom. The spiritual struggle of Christian life is a real one, “not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers of the present darkness the hosts of wickedness in heavenly places