Marian Religious Icons: The Andronikov Image

Marian Religious Icons: The Andronikov Image

If you are at least superficially familiar with Marian religious icons, most likely you have heard about the famous Andronikov image of the Mother of God, also known as the Greek-Andronikov image. Along with The Theotokos of Vladimir, Our Lady of Kazan, The Panagia Portaitissa, and Our Lady of the Sign, this saint icon is one of the most venerated images depicting the Blessed Virgin Mary. It can be easily recognized by the beautiful crown worn by the Mother of God, with her head inclined to the right. Besides, the Theotokos in this religious icon is depicted without Divine Infant. It is believed that the Andronikov image of the Mother of God is one of the three saint icons painted by the Evangelist Luke himself. The first mention of it goes back to 1347; the Russian examples, however, appeared only in the late 19th – early 20th century.

The original Greek-Andronikov icon once belonged to the Byzantine Emperor Andronikos III Palaiologos, hence its name. According to the legend, the image began to bleed after it had been attacked by a Turk, who caused a cut on the neck with a bone-handled steel knife. That knife was eventually placed in a special case at the bottom of the Theotokos image. Since then, the bleeding wound is visible in all copies of the original Andronikov icon.

Not long before his death in 1341, Andronikos III presented the saint icon of the Mother of God to a monastery on the peninsula of Monemvasia, located on a small island off the east coast of the Peloponnese in the southern Greek region. However, in 1821, the Turks devastated the Monemvasia monastery and destroyed many antique icons of Jesus Christ and His saints. Luckily, the Andronikov icon was saved by the abbot of the monastery, who brought it to the city of Patras located in the northern Peloponnese. It was here that he bequeathed the saint icon to his relative N. Vlassopoulos, who happened to be the Russian consul-general in the Morea (the Peloponnese peninsula in southern Greece).

In 1839, the Andronikov religious icon of the Mother of God was sent from Greece to Russia as a gift to Nicholas I (Nikolai Pavlovich Romanov), the Emperor of Russia. For several decades, it was stored in the Winter Palace, the first grand imperial residence in St. Petersburg. In 1877, the saint icon was taken to the temple of the Kazan women’s monastery, located near Vyshnii Volochek in Tver Province. Unfortunately, in 1984, the original Greek-Andronikov religious icon was stolen. To this day, the whereabouts of the holy image remain unknown. However, its copies, including hand-painted Russian icons of high quality, can still be found.

The Andronikov icon of the Mother of God is commemorated on October 22 and May 1.