The icon is lost and little is known about its history. According to legend, the Yarslavskaya icon of the Mother of God was owned by Yaroslavl princes Vasily and Constantine Vsevolodovich, who lived in the 13th century and were famous for restoring the churches devastated by Khan Batu’s hordes. The saint princes’ relics were discovered in 1501 after the fire in Yaroslavl’s Dormition Cathedral in Yaroslavl and were later housed in a stone church built by Ivan III’s command. The relics were placed between the pillars of the new church under ancient icons, among which was the wonderworking Yaroslavl icon of the Mother of God, in whose honor the lower cathedral of the Elijah the Prophet Church was subsequently consecrated The miraculous icon was broadly venerated, as can be evidenced by many copies of the icon, created in the 15th – 16th centuries.

The iconography of the Yaroslavl icon of the Mother of God represents one of the waist-length variants of the Tenderness icon that had developed in the 13th century. The Infant Christ is shown sitting on the Theotokos’ arms at right. The Mother of God’s head is inclined towards the Infant Christ, their faces are pressed against each other. Christ sits in the upright position and hold the Mother of God by the chin. His feet are drawn together.

An exact copy of the wonderworking image, executed in 1500, was donated to the Holy Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius by Agrafena Sutskaya, the widow of the last Yaroslavl prince. The earliest surviving image of the Yaroslavskaya icon is an icon of the first half of the 15th century from the State Tretyakov Gallery, formerly located at the Dormition Church on Apukhtinka Street in Moscow. Numerous copies of the icon serve as the evidence of the icon’s popularity.

The Yaroslavskaya icon of the Mother of God is commemorated on June 21 (June 8, O.S.) on the day of the discovery of the relics of saint princes Vasily and Constantine.

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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