Why Is the Virgin of Vladimir Significant for Orthodox Christians?
There are many Orthodox icons of the Blessed Virgin Mary. They are honored by the Christian Church as miraculous for their ability to cure any ailments, strengthen faith, and save from grief, discouragement, and temptation. However, some relics are especially notorious for their remarkable history and miracles. Among them is the Virgin of Vladimir. Though the icon is badly preserved, with only the faces of the Virgin and Child maintained in the original form, it is one of the most important religious shrines in Orthodoxy.
Who is depicted in the Vladimir icon of the Mother of God?
The icon depicts the figures of Jesus and the Blessed Virgin Mary, nestled against each other. The head of the Mother of God is tenderly bowed to the Son, and He embraces her neck. The distinctive feature of the Vladimir icon is the bent left leg of the infant Christ.
Such a heartwarming composition cannot fail to evoke joy, compassion, and empathy. However, it also has a deeper theological meaning. The Virgin Mary is the prototype of the Ecumenical Church and the human soul staying in constant dialogue with God. She is likened to the Ark of the Covenant, holding divine grace and sacrificial love. It is believed that prayer with this religious relic promotes spiritual firmness and fortitude.
Why is the Virgin of Vladimir significant for Orthodox Christians?
In 1155, Andrey Bogolyubsky (son of Yuri Bogolyubsky) transported the shrine from Kyiv to Vladimir where the Assumption Cathedral was built. Thus, the icon acquired its current name.
According to various sources, the Virgin of Vladimir often assisted the Slavs during military campaigns and the fight against invading barbarians. For example, in 1164, it helped Andrey Bogolyubsky defeat the tribes of the Volga Bulgars.
Another example was the miracle that occurred during the invasion of Tamerlane. At the time, the sacred image was transferred to Moscow, and the akathist was constantly read in front of it. As the legend goes, the khan, frightened by the power of the Mother of God, returned the troops. Chroniclers noted that he saw a high mountain in a dream, with soldiers descending from it, carrying shining weapons, and the Mother of God hovering over them and blessing the Orthodox lands with Her grace.
Since ancient times, the Virgin of Vladimir has been protecting the territory of the Kievan Rus from enemies, quarrels, and military conflicts. It is no wonder that it is a highly revered relic for every Orthodox Christian believer.