Major Types of Our Lady of Tenderness Icon
In Orthodox Christianity, there are several major types of Russian icons depicting the Blessed Virgin. One of them is Our Lady of Tenderness icon. It belongs to the main iconographic form of the Mother of God, the so-called Eleusa, where the Virgin Mary embraces the Son of God, with His head pressed lovingly against her cheek. The icon of Our Lady of Tenderness, as a rule, is performed according to this tradition: the Holy Mother is depicted half-length, with the infant Christ pressing His cheek against hers.
History of Our Lady of Tenderness Icon
It is known that the original icon of the Blessed Virgin Mary “Tenderness” is a copy of the famous Our Lady of Vladimir icon, one of the most revered icons of Russia, which was delivered from Kyiv by Prince Andrei Bogolyubsky in the 12th century. The sacred image arrived in Moscow, or more precisely, the Assumption Cathedral, in the late 1300s. According to historical records, the divine masterpiece was saved from destruction more than once, and thanks to it, plenty of people were cured of serious diseases.
There is a large number of versions of Our Lady of Tenderness icon. In Christian Orthodox iconography, the Holy Virgin is most often depicted in this form. The symbolism of this celestial art piece is the inseparable, boundless love and the absence of any distance between the Lord, His Son, and the Blessed Mother.
The most legendary variations of Our Lady of Tenderness icon include:
- The Icon of the Mother of God of Novgorod. Created at the end of the 12th century, it is now kept in the Uspensky Cathedral. The icon (pictured above) depicts the Virgin Mary and the baby Jesus in the typical position of the Hodegetria icon but with their cheeks touching. The infant Christ holds a scroll in His right hand while making a gesture of blessing with His left hand.
- The Pskov-Pechersk Icon. It represents a copy of the highly worshipped Our Lady of Vladimir icon, which was created in 1521. This miraculous artwork is widely known for a large number of marvelous properties.
- The Feodorovskaya Icon of the Mother of God. This revered image stored in the Epiphany Cathedral is considered the shrine of the House of Romanov.
- The Don Icon of the Mother of God. This one is a double-sided icon featuring the Assumption of the Virgin Mary on its reverse side. It is dedicated to the Church holiday commemorating the death of the Blessed Mother.
The divine image of the Holy Mother is one of the leading objects of worship in Christianity. Hence, the Our Lady of Tenderness icon is of great importance for all Orthodox believers.