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Vladimir Mother of God Icon

Vladimir Mother of God Icon

The Icon

Commemorated on: December 7

The Seligersk "Vladimir" Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos.

As tradition has it, the Vladimir Icon of Our Lady, which ranks among the greatest Russian holy relics, was painted by Apostle Luke on top of a table, at which the Holy Family would eat. In the middle of the 12-th century that icon was presented by emperor Theodosius of Byzantium to grand duke Yury Dolgoruky, the founder of Moscow.

At first, that icon was kept at Vyshgorod monastery near Kiev. In 1160 it was transferred to Vladimir's Assumption cathedral, with the people subsequently calling it the Vladimir Icon of Our lady. (Vladimir, which was an ancient Russian capital, is located north-east of Moscow -- Ed.) The people of Moscow revere this icon, believing that it had protected Russia against foreign invaders on at least three occasions. The three invasions were mounted by Asian hordes in warm weather.

In 1395 the armies of khan Tamerlane approached Moscow. For his own part, grand duke Vasily, who didn't count on his soldiers alone, had the Icon of Our Lady delivered from Vladimir. That icon was welcomed by the people of Moscow September 8, 1395; September 8 has been celebrated as the Feast of the Purification (Sretenye in Russian) ever since. Moreover, a monastery of the same name was built on what is now Moscow's Sretenka street. Khan Tamerlane subsequently dreamed of a shining lady, who descended on him, and who was surrounded by a multitude of warriors. His dream was so terrifying that Tamerlane beat a hasty retreat. Consequently, Russia has been celebrating the Feast of Purification since September 8, 1395.

The Russian army was apparently protected by this icon on some other occasions, too.