Russian Icon of Our Lady of Kazan: History and Legends
Today, on November 4, Russia celebrates the 1612 liberation of Moscow, a holiday known as Unity Day. However, this day is also marked by a very important church feast commemorating the antique Russian icon of Our Lady of Kazan. Depicting the Virgin Mary chest-length, with the Child Jesus standing next to her, it is one of the most outstanding Russian icons, venerated by all Orthodox Christian believers since the 16th century. Plus, it is also one of the most mysterious religious icons, the appearance and disappearance of which are shrouded in many legends.
It is believed that the original antique Russian icon of Our Lady of Kazan came to Russia from Constantinople in the 13th century, but in the mid-15th century, it was lost. The icon was discovered only in 1579 after a large fire had destroyed much of the city of Kazan. According to the legend, the Theotokos appeared to a 10-year-old Matrona and told the girl where to find the holy image. It is interesting that when the antique icon of Our Lady of Kazan was dug up from the ashes of a burned house, it was in its pristine condition, with bright and beautiful colors, as if it had been just painted.
Since then, Our Lady of Kazan has become one of the most significant and venerated images of the Theotokos in Russia, largely due to numerous miracles related to it. Many churches and cathedrals were built in honor of this antique icon not only in Kazan, but in Moscow, St. Petersburg, and Yaroslavl too. Unfortunately, the original image was stolen under mysterious circumstances from the Kazan Monastery of the Theotokos in 1904. The thieves were found several years later, but the legendary icon of Our Lady of Kazan is still considered lost. According to some sources, it was cut to pieces and burnt. However, there are also people who believe that this Russian icon is kept in someone’s private collection or hidden somewhere in a monastery built far from civilization.
These days, the copies of the antique Russian icon of Our Lady of Kazan can be found in many churches. Besides, they are used for prayer at home. Moreover, most of these holy icons are also considered miracle-working, which makes the Kazan image of the Virgin Mary and the Child Jesus even more venerated and beloved.