The icon of the Mother of God of Vladimir is an object of deep veneration in the Russian Orthodox Church. The depiction shows the Mother of God holding the infant Jesus on her right arm, representing the “Umilenie” style which originated in 11th-century Byzantium. The intimate relationship between the figures is poignantly captured, with Our Lady’s expression conveying a premonition of the sorrowful events that lie ahead.
The origins of the image can be traced back to the Apostolic age. It is said that three portraits of the Virgin Mary and the Christ Child were painted by Saint Luke, the author of one of the four Gospels. Upon seeing the precious images, Mary prophesied that they would become revered throughout the world.
One of these images, known as the Vladimirskaya, was brought from Jerusalem to Constantinople in the 5th century AD. It later found its way to Kiev, where it was placed in the Devichy Monastery by Grand Duke Yuri Dolgoruky. The icon remained there until the 12th century when it was taken on a campaign to the north. Along the way, many people gathered to pray before the image, and miracles were reported. At the Kljasma River, the horses carrying the icon mysteriously came to a halt, prompting the prince to name the place “Bogolyubovo”, which means “loved by God”. Two churches were constructed at the site, one of which became the final resting place of the icon.
In 1160, the icon was transferred to the city of Vladimir, where it was placed in the newly built cathedral. The image quickly acquired a reputation for its miraculous powers, and thousands of pilgrims came to pray before it. Today, the icon can be found in Moscow’s famous Tretyakov Gallery. Its significance in the Russian Orthodox Church remains unparalleled, and it serves as a testament to the enduring power of faith and devotion.
Commemoration day: May 21, June 23 and August 26