The Bogolyubskaya icon of the Mother of God-is an ancient miracle-working icon. the Mother of God is depicted full-length.Her figure is turned to the right.Her arms are raised in a praying gesture, her eyes are fixed on the upper right corner, where in the triangular segment the blessing Saviour is depicted.In the opinion of the specialists, the depiction of the Saviour appeared later, as well as a scroll in the hands of the Mother of God and five waist-length Deisis figures above (Jesus Christ,the Mother of God,St.John the Precurser, the archangels Michael and Gabriel).The researchers think that the icon could have been a prealtar icon or there could have been a twin icon of the Saviour.The iconography of the icon is close to the depiction of the Mother of God in the Deisis composition, as well as to the iconographic type of “Agiosoritrissa”.

No information on the icon in the ancient manuscripts has come to us.A detailed historic survey can be found in “The Chronicle of the Bogolyubskyi Monastery” written by the monastery hegumen Aristarchus in 1767-1769.The details of the text suggest that the author could have used the sources unavailable today.‘The Chronicle’ describes the events which occurred when Prince Andrew Bogolyubskyi was carrying the Bogolyubskaya icon of the Mother of God from Kiev to Rostov. ‘The Chronicle’ says that the carriage with the icon came to an abrupt stop because the horses stopped as though thunder-struck.The Prince saw a predictive sign and started praying.While he was praying appeared before him the Mother of God with a scroll in Her right hand and ordered him to put the icon not in Rostov but in Vladimir, and on the site of Her appearance to found a church and a monastery.Prince Andrew fulfilled the command and founded the Church of Nativity of the Holy Mother of God.Later he had the monastery built and commanded to paint the icon of the Mother of God as she had appeared to him.The icon richly decorated was placed by the Prince in the church and he established a holiday in honour of the icon on the day of the Holy Virgin’s appearance (18th June old style).In memory of the miraculous appearance of the Mother of God the icon and the monastery got the name Bogolyubskyi.

Based on this information and analysis of the ancient painting the researchers give the approximate time-the third quarter of the X11 century.Since the painted face of the Holy Virgin is close to the versions of Byzantine capital painting, they think that the icon could have been painted by either the Greek master or the Russian painter who was familiar with the relevant versions.Depictions of five figures of the Deisis tier in the upper segment,in the opinion of the specialists, could have appeared in late X11 century, and the depiction of the Saviour in the segment and a scroll in the hand of the Mother of God,according to I.A.Sterligova,-at the turn of the XШ – X1V centuries.

In 1918 the restorers partially removed the paint.The restorers headed by G.O. Chirikov under the supervision of A.I.Anisimov, V.T.Georguievsky and I.E.Grabar and working for the Commission on Preservation and Restoration of the ancient icon paintings declared a poor condition of the ancient painting.

Work on removing the paint and renovation was carried out by F.A.Modorov in 1946 and by N.A. Baranov in 1956.In 1958 the condition of the icon was considered critical.Restoration work was begun by N.A. Baranov and completed by V.V.Romanova in 1976. (the State Central Art Restoration Workshops).

Before the revolution the icon was in the cathedral of the Bogolyubskyi Monastery.After it was closed the icon was put in the Church of Saints Jehoiakim and Anna in Bogolyubovo, and later in the Dormition Cathedral in Vlsdimir.In the 30ies the icon came in at the Vladimir Oblast Museum.In 1992 the icon was put in temporary safekeepimg at the Knyaginin Convent of the Dormition.In 2009 it was returned to the museum in critical condition.

Copies of the Bogolyubskaya icon of the Mother of God can be divided into two iconographic types.The first represents exact copies of the ancient original icon.On some icons of this type one can see the depiction of the kneeling Prince Bogolyubskyi or of the Bogolyubskyi Monastery which is sometimes placed at the feet of the Mother of God.The second type relating to the iconographic version “Praying for the People” includes the icons with the depictions of saints kneeling with prayers at the feet of the Mother of God.For example, the icon of the Bogolyubskaya Moscow Mother of God which was over the Varvar Gates of Kitai-Gorod (at the present time it is kept in the Moscow Church of the Saint Apostles Peter and Paul on Kulishki at the Yauza Gates). Besides,in the copies of the end of the XV11-beginning of the XVШ century the ancient icons of the Mother of God praying or in the iconographic version “Praying for the People” sometimes got the name Bogolyubskaya due to similarity.

Celebrations honouring the The Bogolyubskaya icon of the Holy Mother of God are held on the 1st July (18th June old style) 


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