The Orthodox icon | Mother of God of Vladimir | Vladimirskaja, features the child in her right arm, reflecting the style of the Umilenie icon, which originated in Byzantium in the 11th century. A loving gaze from the Mother of God towards the child is prominent, portraying their intimate bond. However, her melancholic expression suggests her foreknowledge of the impending Passion.
The Russian Orthodox Church honors the icon of the Mother of God of Vladimir on three specific feast days: May 21, June 23, and August 26. This icon is considered the most revered and famous of all miraculous icons across Russia.
Each feast day links to a significant miracle attributed to the icon, one of three images of the Mother of God cradling the child, allegedly painted by the apostle Luke. Mary reportedly stated upon seeing these three images, “The blessed goodness born from me will also be with these holy icons”.
In the mid-5th century, the icon that would later earn the name Vladimirskaya made its journey from Jerusalem to Constantinople. Then, as per tradition, in the middle of the 12th century, the Patriarch of Constantinople sent the icon to Kiev. Grand Duke Yuri Dolgoruki positioned the picture in the Devičij Virgin Monastery in Vyshhorod (near Kiev).
In 1155, the Prince of Vyshhorod took the icon with him during his northern expedition. Along the journey, people prayed in front of the icon, and it purportedly performed miracles. Upon reaching the Klyazma River, the horses carrying the icon refused to move further.
The prince named the place Bogolyubovo (“loved by God”), where he built two churches, one of which housed the icon. Later, a women’s monastery and the city of Bogolyubov were established there.
On September 21, 1160, the authorities relocated the icon to the grand cathedral recently constructed in the city of Vladimir. It was then that the icon became known as “Vladimirskaya”. From 1395 onwards, the Dormition Cathedral in Moscow has been its home.