The Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God is an ancient miracle-working icon, the greatest object of worship in Russia.Initially it was a processional icon with a handle with a three-blade fork.When the borders of the icon panel were enlarged, the handle was removed.The icon is two-sided. On the obverse side is a waist-length depiction of the Mother of God.She holds the Divine Child on Her left arm and Her left hand is raised towards the Saviour in a praying gesture.The Divine Child presses His cheek to His Mother’s face and embraces Her neck.The Divine Child’s feet are covered with the tunic.His left leg is bent in the knee in such a way that His foot is visible.The depiction belongs to the iconographic type which is called “Eleusa”.V.N.Lazarev and A. Grabar determine the timing of the obverse side as the first half of the X11 century.On the reverse side is the throne on which the closed Gospel lies, on the Gospel –a white dove with the golden halo and instruments of passions-four nails and the crown of thorns.Behind the throne is a tall octagonal cross .The researches determine the timing of the reverse side as the period of the second renovation of the obverse side-the turn of the XV century.The chronicles say that the icon was brought from Constantinople and put in Vyshgorod around 1130. In 1155 Andrew Bogolubsky took it from Vyshgorod to Vladimir and put it at the Dormition Cathedral.In Vladimir the icon became famous for its miracles.In 1163-1164 a tale appeared “On the miracles of the Vladimir Holy Icon of the Mother of God” which described ten miracles which came true after praying to the icon.Since that time the icon has been worshipped as a patroness of the Vladimir Suzdal land.
At the end of the X1V century a new period in the history of the Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God.In 1395 Temir-Khan with his army invaded the Southern precincts of the Russian Princedoms: devastated the Ryazan Pribcedom and occupied the town of Elets.On the command of the Great Prince Vasily Dmitrievich who set out with his army towards Temir-Khan. On the 26th of August 1395 the Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God was brought to Moscow with great honours.The legend says that on that very day Temir-Khan withdrew his troops.In memory of this miracle a holiday of meeting of the miracle-working icon was established. After that the icon was returned to Vladimir.
Final transfer of the icon to Moscow was carried out in 1480.It was placed in the new Dormition Cathedral.The icon becomes the major miracle-working icon of the Moscow State, its patroness and protectress.
The Russian Tsars were traditionally crowned near the Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God.
In 1918 from the Dormition Cathedral the icon was taken out for restoration.The removal of overpaint was carried out by G.O.Chirikov under supervision of I.E.Grabar, A.I.Anisimov and A.I.Grishchenko.As a result the original painting layer on the images of the Mother of God and the Divine Child was disclosed, partially on the hands and the clothing as well as the remainder of the golden background and letters.Besides, some fragments of renovations of the first half of the XШ century, beginning of the XV century, 1514 and 1895-1896.Cleaned of the painting layer of the end of the X1X century and dirty linseed oil the painting fragment were left without colour polish***.In 1930 the icon came in at the State Tretyakov Gallery.Since 1999 the icon is in the Church of the Holy Nicholas in Tolmachy at the State Tretyakov Gallery.
Celebration in honour of the Vladimir Icon of the Holy Mother of God is held three times a year: on the 3rd June (21st May old style)-in remembrance of the miraculous riddance of Mahmud-Girei*** in 1521, on the 6th July (23rd June old dtyle) in remembrance of the final transfer of the icon from Vladimir to Moscow, and on the 8th September (26th August old style) in remembrance of the miraculous riddance of the T*** ‘s army in 1395.
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