Saturday, May 24, 2008

May 25th: Russia - Our Lady of Vladimir

Feast Day: May 21st

A sacred icon of Mary and her Son which has a long and venerable tradition in Russian history. It was probably painted at the beginning of the twelfth century and brought to Kiev in the Ukraine from Constantinople. Then it was taken as a gift to the ruling prince of the city of Vladimir, east of Moscow, where it remained until the time of the invasion of Tamerlane, who was approaching Moscow. The icon was then transferred from Vladimir to Moscow. Tamerlane halted his armies and Moscow was saved (1395). The icon remained in Moscow. On three other occasions, in 1451, 1459, and 1480, the Tatars menaced Moscow, but the city was saved through the intercession of Our Lady of Vladimir. As a sign of gratitude three feasts came to be celebrated in her honor annually, on May 21, June 23, and August 26. At the time of the Russian Revolution, the Communists took the icon from the Cathedral of the Assumption and placed it in the Tretiakov Art Gallery, where it is now on display. (Fr. John A. Hardon)
Catholic Culture includes this article on Our Lady of Vladimir from Shrines to Our Lady by Zsolt Aradi, and this Mary Page entry includes a meditation on the picture. The icon is an eleousa, meaning "Mother of Tenderness". This site is a good starting point to learn more about iconography techniques.

You can learn about the town of Vladimir here. It was the medieval capital of Russia, and is now a World Heritage site. A Russian website gives a detailed history and description of the Cathedral of the Assumption where the icon was originally kept.

At there is an article on the current state of the Catholic Church in Russia, based on a 1998 conference talk. The Armenian Catholic Church in Russia has a informative website; articles include the history of the Armenian Church and the story of the 20th century martyr Bishop Ignatius Maloyan.
Prayer to Our Lady of Vladimir

Mary, Queen of Heaven, we honour Your icon before which the Russian people pray. We beg You to look with favour and motherly care on that great country and to lead it to faith and friendship with us all. We are blessed to have Your Russian image in a place of honour, to pray to You and to work with You for the conversion of Russia and the peace of the world. (Richard Cardinal Cushing, Archbishop of Boston)

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