The Theotokos of Vladimir (Vladimirskaya) is one of the most well-known Orthodox icons. It is presently located in the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow, Russia.
The Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God was painted by the Evangelist Luke on a board from the table at which the Savior ate together with His All-Pure Mother and Righteous Joseph. The Mother of God, upon seeing this image, exclaimed, "Henceforth, all generations shall call Me blessed. The grace of both My Son and Me shall be with this icon."
In the year 1131, the icon was sent from Constantinople to Rus to holy Prince Mstislav (April 15) and was installed in the Devichi monastery in Vyshgorod, the ancient appanage city of the holy Equal of the Apostles Princess Olga.
The son of George Dolgoruky, St Andrew Bogoliubsky, brought the icon to the city of Vladimir in 1155 and installed it in the renowned Dormition cathedral which he built. At this time the icon received its name of the Vladimir Icon. The icon was first brought to Moscow in the year 1395. Thus, the blessing of the Mother of God established the spiritual bonds of Byzantium and Rus via Kiev, Vladimir and Moscow.
Very important events in Russian Church history have occurred before the Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God: the election and elevation of St Jonah, advocate of an Autocephalous Russian Church (1448), and of St Job, first Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia (1589), and of His Holiness Patriarch St Tikhon (1917).
The enthronement of His Holiness Pimen, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, occurred on a day of celebration in honor of the Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God on May 21, 1971.
Celebrations of the icon
The festal celebration of the Vladimir Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos occurs several times during the year.
Meeting of the Vladimir Icon upon its Transfer from Vladimir to Moscow
The most solemn celebration of the icon occurs on August 26, the feast established in honor of the Meeting of the Vladimir Icon upon its Transfer from Vladimir to Moscow.
In the year 1395, the conqueror Khan Tamerlane (Temir-Aksak) reached the Ryazan frontier and was advancing towards Moscow. Great Prince Basil Dimitrievich went with an army and halted at the banks of the River Oka. He prayed to the holy Hierarchs of Moscow and St Sergius for the deliverance of the Fatherland, and he wrote to the Metropolitan of Moscow St Cyprian, that the pending Dormition Fast should be devoted to zealous prayers for mercy and repentance.
Clergy were sent to Vladimir, where the famed wonderworking Vladimir Icon was. After Divine Liturgy and a Molieben on the feast of the Dormition, the clergy took the icon and brought it to Moscow. Along the way, on both sides of the road, countless people prayed kneeling: "O Mother of God, save the land of Russia!"
At that same time, when the people of Moscow were meeting the Vladimir Icon on Kuchkov Field, Tamerlane while sleeping in his camp, dreamed of a great mountain, at the summit of which were the holy hierarchs with golden staffs coming towards him. Above them, in a brilliant radiance, was a Majestic Woman. She commanded him to leave Russia. Awakening in fright, Tamerlane asked the meaning of the vision. The experts answered that the Radiant Lady was the Mother of God, the great Protectress of Christians. Tamerlane then gave the order for his troops to retreat.
In memory of this miraculous deliverance of the Russian Land from Tamerlane, they built the monastery of the Meeting on Kuchkov Field, where the Meeting of the Vladimir Icon took place.
Meeting of the Vladimir Icon in memory of Saving of Moscow from the Invasion of Khan Achmed
On June 23 the Church celebrates the miracle of the Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God, which led to the saving of Moscow from the invasion of Khan Achmed in 1480.
Meeting of the Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God
On May 21 of each year, the feast Celebration of the Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God is celebrated to commemorate the deliverance of Moscow from an invasion of Tatars in 1521.
A blind nun had a vision of Moscow's bishops forsaking the city and taking with them the Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God, the holiest object in the city of Moscow. At the gates, the holy hierarchs were met by Ss Sergius of Radonezh and Barlaam of Khutyn (November 6), tearfully imploring them not to leave Moscow. All of them offered intense prayer to the Lord for the forgivness and the deliverance of Moscow from its enemies. After this prayer the bishop-saints returned to the Kremlin, and they carried back the holy Vladimir Icon. St Basil the Blessed (August 2) saw a similar vision.
The Tatar Khan also had a vision of the Mother of God with a fearsome host, contending against his forces. The Tatars fled in fear, and the capital of the Russian realm was saved.
- O Mistress, Empress and Lady,
- Defend all who are in danger and misfortune
- Or weak from many sins,
- And who stand before your holy Icon
- Praying with tears, humility, repentance, and invincible hope,
- Free them from all evil,
- Give them the grace they need.
- And save us all, O Virgin Mother of God,
- For Your are the divine refuge of those who follow you!