The Vladimir icon of the Mother of God: the origin story

The Vladimir icon of the Mother of God

The content of the article

  • The Vladimir icon of the Mother of God: the legend
  • The Iconography Of The Vladimir Mother Of God
  • The style of the Vladimir icon of the Mother of God
  • Revered miracle-working lists with icons Vladimir mother of God
  • The troparion of the icon of Vladimir mother of God, tone 4
  • Kontakion of the Vladimir icon of the Mother of God, tone 8
  • Prayer of the Vladimir icon of the Mother of God

The Vladimir icon of the Mother of God depicts the virgin Mary. It is one of the most revered relics of the Russian Orthodox Church.

The Vladimir icon of the Mother of God: the legend

According to pious legend, the image of the Mother of God of Vladimir was painted by the Evangelist Luke on a Board from the table at which the Saviour ate together with his all-pure Mother and righteous Joseph the Betrothed. Mother of God, seeing this image, exclaimed: “Henceforth will humour Me, all ye Rodi. Rozhdshegosya grace from Me, and My thus let it be.”

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The Vladimir icon of the Mother of God

Up to half of the V century the icon remained in Jerusalem. When Theodosius the Younger, it was moved to Constantinople, where in 1131, she was sent to Russia as a gift to Yuri Dolgoruky from the Ecumenical Patriarch Luke hrizoverha. The icon was placed in the nunnery of the city of Vyshgorod, near Kiev, where she immediately became famous for many miracles. In 1155, the son of Yuri Dolgoruky, St. Prince Andrei Bogolyubsky, wanting to have the legendary relic, the icon moved to the North, to Vladimir, and placed in erected the famous assumption Cathedral. Since that time the icon received the naming of Vladimir.

During the campaign of Grand Duke Andrei Bogolubsky against Volga Bulgars in 1164, the image of “Holy virgin of Vladimir” helped the Russians to defeat the enemy. The icon survived during the terrible fire on 13 April 1185, when burned St. Vladimir’s Cathedral, and remained intact in the devastation of Vladimir by Batu 17 Feb 1237.

The subsequent history of the image is already fully connected with the capital city Moscow, where it was first brought in 1395, during the invasion of the Khan Tamerlane. Conqueror with an army invaded the Ryazan, polonium and ruined her and turned his way to Moscow, devastating and destroying everything. While the Moscow Grand Prince Vasily Dmitrievich gathered the troops and sent them near Kolomna, in the Moscow Metropolitan Cyprian of blessed population for fasting and prayer is repentance. By mutual Council Vasily and Cyprian decided to resort to arms spiritual and transferred from Vladimir to Moscow, the miraculous icon of the Theotokos[1].

The icon was brought to the Dormition Cathedral of the Moscow Kremlin. The chronicle reports that Tamerlan, after standing in one place for two weeks, suddenly frightened, turned South and went out of Moscow’s limits. There was a great miracle during the procession with the miraculous icon, on their way from Vladimir to Moscow, when countless people were kneeling on both sides of the road and prayed: “mother of God, save the Russian land!”, Tamerlane had a vision. Before his mind’s eye appeared a high mountain, the top of which descended with the Golden rod saints, and above them in a brilliant radiance was a Majestic woman. She commanded him to leave Russia. Awakening in fright, Tamerlane asked about the meaning of the vision. He was told that the radiant lady was the mother of God, the great Protectress of Christians. Tamerlane then gave the order for his troops to go back.

The Vladimir icon of the Mother of God

In memory of the miraculous deliverance of Rus ‘ from the invasion of Tamerlane in the day of the meeting in Moscow the Vladimir icon of the Mother of God on August 26 / September 8 was installed the solemn Church feast of the presentation of this icon, and the meeting place was erected a temple, around which were later located Sretensky monastery.

The second time the virgin saved Rus from ruin in 1480 (memory takes place on 23 June / 6 July), when came to Moscow the army of the Golden Horde Khan Akhmad.

Meeting of Tatars with the Russian army occurred at the river Ugra (the so-called “standing on the Ugra”): the troops stood on different sides waiting for a pretext to attack. In the front ranks of the Russian troops held the Vladimir icon of the mother of God, who miraculously routed the Horde shelf.

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The third celebration of the Vladimir Mother of God (may 21 / June 3) recalls the deliverance of Moscow from the defeat of makhmet-Girey, the Khan of Kazan, who in 1521 had reached the limits of Moscow and began to burn its suburbs, but suddenly retreated from the capital, without harming her.

Read also: meeting of the Vladimir icon of the Mother of God

Before the Vladimir icon of the Mother of God occurred many important events in Russian Church history: the election and ordination of Saint Jonah – Primate of the Autocephalous Russian Church (1448), St. job, first Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia (1589), his Holiness Patriarch Saint Tikhon (1917), as well as in all ages before it was brought oath of allegiance to the Motherland, where they conducted prayers before military campaigns.

The Iconography Of The Vladimir Mother Of God

The Vladimir icon of the Mother of God

The Vladimir icon of the Mother of God refers to the type of “Caressing”, also known by the epithets “Eleousa” (ελεουσα – “the Merciful”), “Tenderness”, “Glykofilousa” (γλυκυφιλουσα – “Sweet kiss”). This is the most lyrical of all types of iconographies of the virgin, revealing an intimate side of communication of the virgin Mary with Her Son. The image of the Mother of God, caressing the Infant, his deep humanity was particularly close to Russian art.

See also: the Queen of heaven and earth: why are there so many icons of the virgin?

The iconographic scheme includes two figures – the virgin and the Infant Christ, clinging to each other faces. The bowed head of Mary my Son, and He puts his arm around Mother’s neck. A distinctive feature of the Vladimir icon of the other icons like “Tenderness”: the left leg of the Christ child is bent in such a way that the visible sole of the foot, “heel.”

In this touching composition, in addition to the direct meaning, contained in it a profound theological idea: the virgin caressing the Son, appears as a symbol of the soul in close communion with God. In addition, the arms of Mary and Son suggest about the future of the passion of the cross of the Savior, the Mother fondling the Baby’s Providence his future mourning.

The work is permeated with an obvious sacrificial symbolism. From a theological point of view, its content can be reduced to three main themes: “the incarnation, the purpose of Baby sacrifice and unity in the love of Mary-the Church with Christ the high priest”[2]. This interpretation is confirmed by the virgin Caressing the image on the reverse of the icon of the throne with the symbols of the Passion. Here in the XV century wrote the image of the throne (etimasia – “prepared throne”), covered with the altar cover, the gospel with the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove, nails, crown of thorns, behind the throne – the cross, the spear and reed with sponge and the bottom floor of the altar platform. Theological interpretation etimasia based on the Holy Scriptures and the writings of the Church fathers. Etimasia that typical marks Christ’s resurrection and His judgment upon the living and the dead, and His instruments of torment — a sacrifice for the redemption of the sins of mankind. Comparison of Mary caressing the Infant, and trafficking with the throne clearly expressed the sacrificial symbolism.

There have been arguments that the icon from the very beginning was bilateral about the same shape of the ark and the husks of both parties. In the Byzantine tradition were frequent image of a cross on the back of the Theotokos icons. Since the XII century, the time of the creation of the “Vladimir mother of God”, in the Byzantine mural painting etimasia often placed in the altar as Sultanova image, visually revealing the sacrificial meaning of the Eucharist taking place here at the throne. This suggests the possible location of the icon in ancient times. For example, in Vyshgorodsky monastery Church she could fit in the altar as a bilateral altarpiece icon[3]. In the text of the Legend provides information about the usage of the Vladimir icon as taltarni and remote, moving in the Church.

A luxurious piece of the Vladimir icon of the Mother of God, she had the news Chronicles, is also not evidence in favor of the possibility of its location in the altar screen in the twelfth century: “And Vyskov on nu bole Trideceth grivnas of gold, besides silver and also expensive kaminia and Zhemchug and garnish with Yu, b V C(e), rkvy svoei in Volodimira”. But many of the processional icons was later strengthened in the iconostasis, as the Vladimir icon in the Dormition Cathedral in Moscow originally placed to the right of the Royal doors, “And making th <icon> priemniy temple slavnogo her assumption, who is the great Catholic and Apostolic Church, Russian Archdiocese, and postaviti Yu in Kyoto for gum country inhabited by the hitherto is visible and poklanjam all” (Cm.: The Book Of Royal Degrees. M., 1775. Part 1. S. 552).

There is a perception that “our lady of Vladimir” was one of the lists icons of the mother “Caressing” of the Basilica of Blachernae[4], i.e. a list with the famous ancient wonderworking icon. In the Legend of miracles of the Vladimir icon of the Mother of God it is likened to the ark of the Covenant, like the virgin Mary, and her robe kept in the rotunda of Agia Soros in Blachernae. The Story goes also about the healings that occur are mainly due to the water from the ablutions of the Vladimir icon: the water we drink, bathe her patients, in a sealed vessel sent to heal the sick in other towns. This is underlined in the Legend of the miraculous water from the washing of the Vladimir icon could also be rooted in the rituals of Blachernae Shrine, the most important of which was the chapel source, dedicated to our lady. Constantine Porphyrogenitus described the custom of bathing in the baptismal font in front of a marble relief of the virgin, from the hands which expired water.

In addition, in favor of this view is the fact that when Prince Andrei Bogolyubsky in Vladimir Principality it received a special development of the cult of the virgin associated with the Blachernae relics. For example, at the Golden gates of the city of Vladimir, the Prince built the Church Vestments Provisions of the virgin, right after devoting her relics Blakhernae Church.

The style of the Vladimir icon of the Mother of God

The time of the writing of the Vladimir icon of the Mother of God of the XII century, refers to the so-called kanikowska revival (1057-1185)[5]. This period in Byzantine art is characterized by the ultimate dematerialization of painting by drawing faces, clothes numerous lines, bleaching engines, sometimes whimsical, ornamental placed on the image.

During the ancient icon painting of the XII century are the faces of the Mother and Baby, part of the blue bonnet and the edges of the cloak with a Golden assist, as well as part ocher, gold hatching Baby tunic with sleeves to the elbow and rising above it with a transparent hem of my shirt, brush the left and part of the right hand of the Infant, as well as the remains of the Golden background. These few preserved fragments represent a larger sample of the Constantinople school of painting komsomolskogo period. There are no inherent time deliberate graphic quality, on the contrary, the line is in this manner nowhere to be opposed to volume. The main means of artistic expression built on “connection insensible of flux, giving the surface impression of nerukotvornogo, geometrically pure, visibly arrayed in a line”[6]. “A personal letter is one of the most perfect samples of “kominowski of flux” connecting multilayered series modeling with absolute indistinguishability stroke. Layers of painting – loose, very transparent; most importantly in their relationship with each other, scanning the bottom through the top. <…> Complex and transparent system of correlation of tones – greenish Sankara, PU, shadows and highlights – leads to a specific effect of scattered, flickering light”[7].

The Vladimir icon of the Mother of God in the temple SVT. Nicholas in Tolmachi

Among Byzantine icons komsomolskogo period-Vladimir mother of God also contributes inherent in the best works of this time a deep insight into the human soul, its hidden secret suffering. Head Mother and Son clung to each other. Our lady knows that Her Son will suffer for the people, and the dark, brooding eyes hid sorrow.

The Vladimir icon of the Mother of God in the temple SVT. Nicholas in Tolmachi

The skill with which the painter has managed to convey subtle spiritual state, most likely, was the emergence of stories about the writing of the image of the Evangelist Luke. It should be recalled that the painting of the early Christian period – the time when lived the renowned Evangelist-painter, was the flesh of the art of late antiquity time, with his sensitive, “geopodosnovy” nature. But, in comparison with the icons of the early period, the image of the Vladimir mother of God bears the seal of the high “spiritual culture” which could only be the fruit of centuries of Christian reflection on the coming of the Lord to the earth, the humility of His blessed Mother, and they traversed the path of self-denial and sacrificial love.

Revered miracle-working lists with icons Vladimir mother of God

Vladimir icon of the blessed virgin over the centuries have written a lot of lists. Some of them became famous for miracles and received a special naming depending on place of origin. This:

  • Vladimir – the Volokolamsk icon (memory MP. 3 /16), which was the contribution of Malyuta Skuratov in the Iosifo-Volokolamsk monastery. Now is in the collection of the Central Museum of ancient Russian culture and art named after Andrei Rublev.
  • Vladimir – Seliger (memory D. 7/20), brought to Seliger Neil Stolbensky in the XVI century.
  • Vladimir – Zaonikievsk (memory M. 21./ In.3; Jn. 23/ Il.6, Zaonikievsk monastery), 1588.
  • Vladimir – oranki (memory M. 21/ In. 3), 1634.
  • Vladimir – Krasnogorsk (Montenegrin) (memory M 21/ In. 3). 1603.
  • Vladimir – Rostov (memory AV. 15/ 28), XII century.

The troparion of the icon of Vladimir mother of God, tone 4

This day light flaunts the most glorious city of Moscow, as the dawn sun MOSPRIME lady, Your miraculous icon / Neige now we precause and malasezia You call the information centre: / Oh, prehodna the lady Theotokos, / MOLISA of You embodied our God, he will save this town and all the castles and country Christian unharmed from all libel brazii, // and save our souls, thou Merciful.

Kontakion of the Vladimir icon of the Mother of God, tone 8

Thee the champion leader triumphant, as izbavilsia from the evil coming of Thy honest image, the lady Theotokos, light conjure the feast of the presentation of Your and usually call to thee: rejoice, o Bride nenevestnaya.

Prayer of the Vladimir icon of the Mother of God

O most gracious virgin Mistress, Queen of Heaven, awaits alike the inevitable hour intercessor, not shameful and our Hope! Blagodaram Thee about all the great blagodiyniy, throughout all generations of the people of Russia from the former, before Your most pure icon we pray to Thee: save this town (or: all this, or: this Holy monastery) and predstoje slaves Yours and all the Russian land from famine, guitarista, earth quake, flood, fire, sword, invasion of foreign invaders and internecine warfare. Save and save, Mrs., Great Lord and Father Kirill, most Holy Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia, and of my Lord, (name), His grace Bishop (or: Archbishop, or: Metropolitan) (title), and the most Reverend metropolitans, archbishops and bishops pravoslavnye. Give their Russian Church of opravite good, faithful sheep of Christ’s negible to comply. Remember, mistress, and all priestly and monastic order, warm the hearts of their revnosti on the Bose and worthy of his title, walks legodo strengthen. Save, Mrs., and mercy, and all Your slaves and grant us the way terrestrial pursuits without blemish, Preeti. Establish us in the faith of Christ, and in zeal for the Orthodox Church, put in our hearts the spirit of the fear of God, the spirit of piety, a spirit of humility, of patience, we napastej me, o, in the welfare – abstinence, for others love, to an enemy forgiveness, good, dѣ Lech attainment. Deliver us from every temptation, and the stony insensibility, the terrible day of judgment vouchsafe us a request with Your reason at the right hand of Thy Son, Christ our God. The same befits all glory, honor and worship with the father and Holy Spirit, now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.


[1] These long-term and multiple movement of icons in space poetically absorbed in the tale of the miracles of the Vladimir icon of the Mother of God which was first found of V. O. Klyuchevsky in Chetah-Mina Milyutina, and published the list of the collection of the Synodal library, No. 556 (V. O. Klyuchevsky tales of miracles of the Vladimir icon of the Mother of God. – Saint-Petersburg, 1878). In this ancient description they like the way that passes the sun shone: “When God created the sun, not in the same place put on, but bypassing the entire Universe, the rays of light, and this image of the blessed lady Theotokos and ever-virgin Mary is not the same place… but, bypassing all of the country and the world, enlightens…”

[2] Etingof O. E. To the early history of the icon “our lady of Vladimir” and the tradition of the Theotokos of Blachernae cult in Russia in the XI-XIII centuries // the Image of the mother of God. Essays on Byzantine iconography of XI-XIII centuries – M.: “Progress-Tradition”, 2000, p. 139.

[3] ibid, p. 137. In addition, N. In. Civilize, unveiled a painting of diakonia Trinity Church in Vyazemy the end of the XVI century on the South wall depicts the Liturgy in the temple with an altar, behind which are the icon of the Vladimir mother of God (N. In. Civilize. Newly discovered frescoes in the altar of Trinity Church in Vyazemy. Report of the Department of ancient Russian art at the State Institute of art studies. April 1997).

[4] Etingof O. E. To the early history of the icon “our lady of Vladimir”…

[5]. Throughout its history has been recorded, at least four times in the first half of the XIII century, in the early fifteenth century, in 1521, during alterations in the Dormition Cathedral of the Moscow Kremlin and before the coronation of Nicholas II in 1895-1896 restorers ciriculum by O. S. and M. D. by Dicerium. In addition, small repairs were carried out in 1567 (in the Chudov monastery by Metropolitan Athanasius), in XVIII and XIX centuries.

[6] Kolpakov, G. S. The Art Of Byzantium. Early and middle periods. – SPb: Izd-vo “Azbuka-Klassika”, 2004, p. 407.

[7] ibid, p. 407-408.

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