Russia Religion Subjects Virgin Mary Virgin Hodegetria of Jerusalem

Virgin Hodegetria of Jerusalem

This image is a version of the Virgin Hodegetria in which the Christ Child is half-turned towards His mother. Mary holds Jesus with her left arm and turns His left leg so that His bare foot is visible beneath the himation. The iconography of the Virgin Hodegetria of Jerusalem was established in the fifteenth century. The name refers to the geographical origin of the prototype.

Legend attributes the icon to St Luke, who is reputed to have depicted the Virgin in a similar image fifteen years after Christ’s death. The subsequent history of the image is based on various legends. In 453, it was reputedly brought from Jerusalem to Constantinople, where it contributed to a victory over the Scythians. For the next three hundred years, the icon hung in the Church of Blachernae, home to many other miracle-working icons of the Virgin.

On the occasion of Russia’s adoption of Christianity in 988, Byzantine emperor Leo VI allegedly presented the image to Grand Prince Vladimir of Kiev, who gave it to the people of Novgorod following their baptism (an alternative legend claims that Russians carried it off to Kherson in the early tenth century). The Virgin Hodegetria of Jerusalem hung in the St Sophia Cathedral in Novgorod until 1571, when Ivan the Terrible subdued the city and removed the icon to the Dormition Cathedral in the Moscow Kremlin, where it remained until 1812.

Random articles