Size: 7 3/4" x 6 7/8"
Painted with Metal Oklad
Vladimir Mother of God icon
in a traditional metal cover called "oklad" and a wood case called a "kiot".
The Vladimir Mother of God icon, a variation of the "Eleousa" or "Tenderness" iconographical type, is the most beloved icon of all Russia.
Orthodox tradition holds St Luke the Evangelist, the first iconographer, wrote (painted) the original "Vladimir" icon on boards from the table in the home of the Holy Family in Nazareth.
It is believed St Luke knew the Virgin Mary and many of the Apostles; therefore, his representations are the pattern for later icon paintings.
The letters "MP" and "O (Phi) Y" on either side is the Greek abbreviation for Mary as the "Mother of God". The "stars" on her head and shoulders represent Mary's virginity.
The icon was taken from Jerusalem to Constantinople, the capital city of the Eastern Byzantine Empire, in 450AD. The Russian Chronicles tell us the icon was taken from Constantinople during the reign of Prince Yuri Vladimirovich Dolgoruky (1090s-1157) to the women's monastery of Vyshgorod in Kiev (Rus - the first capital of pre-Russian state) and preformed many miracles there. The icon appeared to Yuri's son, Prince Andrei Yurievich Dolgoruky, directing him to take the icon to the city Vladimir-on-Klyazma.
With great devotion the icon was installed in the Church of the Dormition performing many great miracles. There the icon became known "Vladimir Mother of God".
The "Vladimir" icon is celebrated three times in the Russian Orthodox liturgical year: (1) May 21st to celebrate the icon's helping to save Russia from the invading Crimean-Nogay Horde of Makhmet-Girey; (2) June 23rd in thanksgiving to the protection of the Mother of God from the Golden Horde's Khan Akhmet in 1480; (3) and the commemoration of the Meeting of the Wonder-working icon in 1395 during the invasion of Moscow by the Tartar forces of Tamerlane.
The original icon is housed in the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow. The ownership of the icon was in question after the fall of the Communist government. The Church obtained ownership of the icon but the maintenance of the icon is the responsibility of the Russian state.