This icon contains the oldest depiction of the story of Abgar, king of Edessa, portrayed here on the top right. He is holding the Mandylion, with the miraculous imprint of the face of Christ, brought by Ananias from Jerusalem. Apostle Thaddeus is found on the top left. The ascetics Paul of Thebes, Antony the Great, Basil the Great, and Ephraim the Syrian are found in the lower section.
The veneration of the holy Mandylion spread after its arrival in Constantinople in 944, and was associated with emperor Constantine VII Porphyrogennetos, whose portrait was the model for the depiction of the face of Abgar. The icon was probably painted in Constantinople for a monastery of the East, perhaps the Sinai Monastery.