The Icon of the Mother of God, also called ‘The Vladimir Virgin' is now in Moscow.
It is a miraculous icon of the Eleousa style (tender loving), which originated at the time of Saint Luke: the Christ Child stretches his arm around the neck of his Mother and the Blessed Virgin Mary looks at us in a sweet, sad and very tender way. This is one of the oldest icons of this type and probably also one of the best known in the West.
The Vladimir Virgin played a part in both Russia history and its national treasury
The icon was painted in Constantinople by a Hellenic iconographer at some time during the eleventh or twelfth centuries. It turned up in Kiev, then the Russian capital city in 1131. Then in 1155, Prince Andrew Bogolioubski moved northwards to found a new capital: today's Vladimir. He brought the icon with him, captivated by its splendor.
At this time, the icon began to perform miracles and attracted many followers. Because of its location in Vladimir, which was the religious capital at that time, it was called ‘The Vladimir Virgin.' Later, Moscow became the religious capital, so the icon was moved there in 1395, where it has remained until now.
The icon is an inseparable part of Russian history. It has survived many fires and all kind of destruction. At three different times, the Russian capital was threatened by Tartar invasions and was saved by miraculous interventions ascribed to the icon. The icon was restored in 1514 and many great iconographers have imitated it. Russians hold three feasts a year in honor of the Vladimir Virgin, considered as a sacred treasure of the Russian people.
Today, pilgrims flock in large numbers, from all over the country, to venerate the Vladimir Virgin.
(cf. Maria Donadeo, Icônes mariales russes, 1990; Egon Sendler S.J., Les icônes byzantines de la Mère de Dieu, 1992)