"Our Lady of Vladimir: Queen of Russia"
June 8th, 2010
Watercolor, ink, gold ink
11 by 8.5 inches
About 9 Hours"All of creation rejoices in you, O Full of Grace,
The assembly of Angels and the race of men.
O Sanctified Temple and Rational Paradise!
O Glory of Virgins!
From you, God was incarnate and became a child,
Our God before the ages.
He made your body into a throne, and your womb
He made more spacious than the heavens.
All of creation rejoices in you,
O Full of Grace! Glory to you!"
This is one I've been meaning to do for a long time. I think the icon of the Theotokos of Vladimir is one of the most well known and recognized icons, and its also my favorite.
I've been meaning to paint/write this particular icon for a very LONG time, just because I love it so much.
I did have a bit of trouble over what colors I was going to use for this icon, because the original is very badly damaged, and it was difficult for me to tell whether her outer robes had originally been red or blue. I eventually ended up choosing blue because I had read somewhere that they had originally been blue, and also because I thought blue would look more like the dark color that the original copy has now. Also, there are icons in the Hagia Sophia where the Theotokos wears blue robes as her outer garment, and those pieces were made roughly around the same time. However, if you look at copies people have made on the internet they often have her robes red. I think that by the 13th century the standard color for the Theotokos' outer robes became red; from what I've seen of various icons over the centuries there seemed to be that transition around the 13th century. But that is merely my humble conjecture.
The border on this took the longest, BY FAR. I don't know why I always seem to choose the most ridiculously complicated borders.
It's supposed to look Russian, but its very difficult to find medieval Russian designs.
I was pretty much listening to this song on a continuous loop while painting this: [link]
It's called "Agni Parthene" and I think it is a very beautiful hymn.
I love it so much!
She is known by many names, often called the Theotokos of Vladimir, the Virgin of Vladimir, the Lady who Saves Russia, the Madonna of Vladimir, the Protectress of Russia, and the Vladimirskaya. She has come to be a symbol of Russia and the Mother of God's protection over Christians.
This icon was made in the style of "Eleusa"
, (which is also another title of the Blessed Mother in the Orthodox Church) which means "tenderness" or "showing mercy."
"Eleusa means Merciful, for she extends the mercy that she has received by her great love of her Divine Child." ([link]) "In this type, the Theotokos holds her Son, who touches his face to hers and wraps at least one arm around her neck or shoulder. The Theotokos represents the Church of Christ, thereby displaying the fullness of love between God and man, a love that can only be achieved within the bosom of church, the Mother." ([link]) Icons of this type often depict the Christ child nestled against the cheek of the Theotokos, with her hugging Him tightly. "The Virgin is depicted raising her right hand in veneration of her Son, while her face shows silent suffering, calmness, and compassion, not sentimentality." ([link])
The three stars represent Mary's perpetual virginity, before, during, and after the Nativity of Christ. They also represent the Holy Trinity, often, as with this icon, showing the Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity covering one of the stars. The iconographic abbreviation of ΜΡ ΘΥ stands for Μητηρ Θεου (Meter Theou) which means "Mother of God."
Next to the Christ Child is the iconographic abbreviation IC XC of the Greek words for "Jesus Christ" (i.e., the first and last letters of each of the words ΙΗΣΟΥΣ ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ — written "IHCOYC XPICTOC") Over "IC XC" and "MP OY" are decorative bars called "titlos" which indicate that the name is a Sacred Name. For the titlos next to the Christ Child, I turned them into an Alpha and an Omega, as a reference to Revelations: “I am the Alpha and Omega, the first and the last.”
"In Byzantine and Orthodox images, inside each of the bars of the cross in Christ's halo is one of the Greek letters ώ Ό Ν making up I AM—literally, "the Existing One" — indicating the divinity of Jesus. At least in later Orthodox images, each bar of this cross is composed of three lines, symbolising the dogmas of the Trinity, the oneness of God and the two natures of Christ."
"The miraculous image given the title, Our Lady of Vladimir, is known as an Eleousa, the Greek word meaning, Mother of Tenderness. The Christ Child nestles tenderly close to his mother, he gazes at her and is so closely linked to her that his left arm embraces her fully. His right hand gently touches her left cheek. The original image is a large painting of the type known as the St. Luke icons. Mary looks out at the people. Yet, there is no doubt that she is intimately united to her Divine Son.""Mary, Mother of God, The gentle tenderness you share with your child is a quiet, strong thing, reflected from your image. There is no distance between his soft, but total embrace and you. He loves you. Yes, there is no doubt! O how this child loves you! You are molded as one. His body from your body, his flesh from your flesh, his heart from your heart. His eyes praise you and thank you for your share in his humanity.
Like a strong, powerful, but peaceful magnet, your gaze holds mine. Quiet, calm, endlessly gazing at me from nine centuries of reflected wisdom. You ask only one thing of me: to share the love you share. Love is not gentle, soft tenderness in the sense of weakness. Love is gentle in the sense of strength: enduring, radical, unbroken unity.
Lady of Tenderness, your gaze is both statement and question: If this is the unity he seeks -- a love so strong between God and the human being that nothing can divide it -- then can I not at least try to love as he has loved? Can I not at least try to break down barriers that separate the nations? Can I not make my decisions in his presence and under your gaze -- the presence of this call to unity from the fulness of tender love?
Mary, perhaps if I would pause long enough to return your gaze, stop long enough to love tenderly for just one moment, I could learn from you what wisdom really means.
"About 1131 the Greek Patriarch Luke Chrysoberges of Constantinople sent the icon as a gift to Grand Duke Yury Dolgoruky of Kiev. The image was kept in the Mezhyhirskyi Monastery until Dolgoruky's son Andrey Bogolyubskiy brought it to his favourite city, Vladimir, in 1155. Tradition tells that the horses transporting the icon stopped near Vladimir and refused to go further. People interpreted this as a sign that the Theotokos wanted her icon to stay in Vladimir. To house the icon, the great Assumption Cathedral was built there, followed by other churches dedicated to the Virgin throughout Ukraine.
In 1395, during Tamerlane's invasion, the image was taken from Vladimir to the new capital of Moscow. The spot where people and the ruling prince met the icon is commemorated by the Sretensky Monastery. Vasili I of Moscow spent a night crying over the icon, and Tamerlane's armies retreated the same day. The Muscovites refused to return the icon to Vladimir and placed it in the Cathedral of the Dormition of the Moscow Kremlin. The intercession of the Theotokos through the image was credited also with saving Moscow from Tatar hordes in 1451 and 1480.
The icon of the Theotokos of Vladimir is sometimes described as expressing universal feelings of motherly love and anxiety for her child. By the 16th century, the Vladimirskaya (as the Russians call it) was a thing of legend. Church tradition asserted that the icon was painted by St Luke, though analysis of the image has disproved the legend. The venerated image was used in celebration of coronations of tsars, elections of patriarchs, and other important ceremonies of state. In December 1941, as the Germans approached Moscow, Stalin allegedly ordered that the icon be placed in an airplane and flown around the besieged capital. Several days later, the German army started to retreat." (Wikipedia [link])
The miraculous deliverance of Russia on several occasions has been attributed to the intercession of the Theotokos of Vladimir and several feasts commemorating these events are celebrated in honor of Our Lady of Vladimir:
*On August 26th, she is honored for having saved Russia from the Khan Tamerlane as he was advancing on Moscow. Prayers for the intercession of the Mother of God were offered up as the icon was transferred from Vladimir and Moscow in the hopes of protecting the city. While the icon was on Kuchkov filed, Tamerlane reportedly had a dream in which a majestic woman commanded him to leave Russia. He did so, and the Russian people were saved.
*On June 23rd, again the intercession of the Mother of God saved Moscow from Khan Achmed in 1480.
*On May 21st, she is credited with again saving Moscow from the invading Tatars in 1521.
Holy Queen of Russia, Great Theotokos, intercede for us and for the Russian people before the throne of your Holy Son, Jesus Christ, who reigns forever with the Father and the Holy Spirit, One God, forever and ever. Amen.The Theotokos of Vladimir is part of my series of Our Lady: Mother of All Peoples. She is Queen and Mother of Russia.
This icon is dedicated to the Russian people and in particular, to my Russian friends here on deviantART.
EDIT (July 1st, 2010): I didn't like the green on the border, so I finally just decided to cover it up with dark blue and black. I think it looks much better now, and it makes the gold pop.