The Lyubyatovskaya icon of the Mother of God is a waist-length depiction of the Mother of God with the Infant Christ in arms. The Divine Child is sitting on the left arm of the Mother of God, their faces are pressed against each other. The icon is a rare version of the Tenderness (Umilenie) icon showing Christ touching His Mother’s chin with His right hand. The distinctive features of the Lyubyatov icon is the Child’s upright position, a scroll in his left hand bent at the elbow, and the right bare hand.

The Lyubyatovskaya icon of the Mother of God is largely famous for defending Pskov from Ivan the Terrible’s troops in 1570. The tale of this miracle has survived on the engraved inscription on a silver plate that was attached to the reverse side of the icon in the 19th century. It reads that “In the summer of 1570, on the second week after the Great Lent, Tsar Ioann Vasilyevich Grozny, while heading for Prskov to execute its citizens, stayed for a night at this monastery of St. Nicholas on Luybatovo. Here, standing in the church during a matin, he was looking at the miraculous Umilenie icon of the Mother of God, and feeling tenderness in his heart, told his warriors: blunt your swords with stones and let murders stop.” Another legend, also found on the back side of the icon, tells about the desecration of the icon by Stephen Bathory troops during the siege of Pskov in 1581.

The Lyubyatovskaya icon of the Mother of God is dated to the mid-15th century. It is now located in the State Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow.

The Lyubyatovskaya icon of the Mother of God is commemorated on April 1 (March 19, O.S.).

Zhanna G. Belik,

Ph.D. in Art history, senior research fellow at the Andrei Rublyov Museum, custodian of the tempera painting collection.

Olga E. Savchenko,

research fellow at the Andrei Rublyov Museum.


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