20 May 2023

More on our Lady of Vladimir.

I apologise for a careless misreading on my part, which made a nonsense of yesterday's post ... which I have now corrected. Sorry; and thanks to those who commented.

 There is a certain pattern sometimes found among Ikons of our blessed Lady; the ikon of our Lady of Vladimir is a preeminent example. The academics call it eleousa. This is a participle from the one Greek verb that all Western Catholics know: every time we go to Mass, we beseech the Lord to have mercy.

Kyrie eleison: Kyrie is the vocative of Kyrios, which in Hellenic Christianity from S Paul onwards, does duty for HWHY, the tetragrammaton, the unutterable Name of God. Eleison is an imperative: Have Mercy. But eleousa  is a feminine participle meaning She who is showing mercy. (The Russian term is Umilenie.)

This design is unusual and enormously striking. The face of the Redeemer is pressed to his Mother's cheek. His hand clutches at her chin; with His other hand He holds the edge of her garment, the Maphorion or protecting robe which symbolises the Robe which was once preserved in the basilica of Blachernae in Constantinople. This ikon expresses the continuities, dynastic as well as political and religious, of Byzantine Chritianity.

Our Lady of Vladimir is on 'Slavic' but not Greek calendars: The Encounter of the miraculous iikon of the Mother of God at Vladimir, May 21. (Constantine, and my own concivis S Helena, occur on the same day; Byzantines, wisely, have no problems about this sort of thing.)

The Vladimir ikon of the Theotokos appears to have been a gift from the imperial family in Constantinople to Kiev in 1130. A few years later, it went to the new capital in the north-east of Russia, Vladimir on the Klyasma. After spending a few years in Moskow, it remained in Vladmir until 1480, after which it was housed in the Cathedral of the Dormition/Assumption in the Moskow Kremlin. After the Revolution, it was kept in the Tretyakov Gallery in Moskow. Go to Wikipaedia for an account of the circumstances of its display today!

Ekaterina Gusseva, who wrote extensively about Orthodox religion (I plagiarised her in the information above), observed that "Moskow icon painters made copies of icons credited with miracles. Some of these in turn produced miracles". 

It would be lovely if future historians were able to wax lyrically about the floods of miracles which resulted from our Lady's intercessions in Warwick Street! 

Domina da pacem.

There is a fine copy in the Russian Orthodox Parish in Cardiff, commissioned by a member of the Ortdinarate. 


Moritz Gruber said...

"Moscow icon painters made copies of icons credited with miracles. Some of these in turn produced miracles."

There is one curious instance where we "have that in the West". It's not an icon by style, but classic art which we've grown so accustomed to love. It has no particularly holy backstory besides its content. I'm talking, of course, of the image "Mary, help!", which Lucas Cranach (who alas had, and had already fallen to Protestantism) painted for the Duke-Elector of Saxony, who gave it as a diplomatic present to the princebishop-elect of Passau, an Austrian archduke. When the latter resigned on his sees (he had never actually taken Holy Orders, though I'm not sure about the minor ones), married and settled as Prince-Count of Tyrol, he brought it to Innsbruck (which was not then an episcopal see, but already the secular capital of Tyrol).

And then the whole thing started off.

And it was copied, oh how much was it copied! It is known that places become places of pilgrimage if they house the relics of a beloved saint or something miraculous occurs there, but there was now one other method: pay some painter, let him go to Innsbruck, make a copy of the "Mary, help!"-image, and build a chapel around it...

One famous site of such a copy (my own parish has one, too...) was Passau, who apparently had just missed out becoming the site of the original when Archduke Leopold relinquised his post of bishop-elect there. The copy in Passau became arguably even more famous than the original in Innsbruck, but there is need of a little explanation here how that came to be.

What we now know as "Austria" takes its name from the (much bigger) Emperordom of Austria, which takes its name from the family of Austria, which takes its name from the most prestigious duchy (archduchy, actually) it ruled. (The family is also known by another, if former, possession of theirs, the county of Habsburg, but that is not in any way more its own name than Habsburg is.) The actual archduchy of Austria now (today the states of Lower Austria, Upper Austria and Vienna within the Republic of Austria) was part of the diocese of Passau then, minus the city of Vienna (but only the city) which was already its own diocese. Until the 15th century, it too had belonged to Passau.

In 1683 now, the Emperor had fled from the Turks from Vienna to Passau, and prayed daily at the "Mary, help!"-image... until the war was won. It was won somewhat miraculously, because the relief army was actually smaller than the besiegers, and I doubt the Viennese could help much by means of a sortie; anyway, they won with the cry "Mary, help!" on their lips and a banner depicting our Lady carried before them on the Sunday within the octave of our Lady's nativity, September 12, 1683, which the Pope only one year later ordered to be observed by the whole worldwide Church as the major double feast of the most holy Name of Mary. (The Austrians obviously celebrate it at least as a 2nd class double, and arguably as something like a national holiday.)

So, that's where a copied "icon" is miraculous in the West.

Moritz Gruber said...

(The "national holiday" part is obviously a past thing, though. The present national holiday of Austria is the first day no Allied soldier was present on its soil in 1955.)

Christoph Hagen said...

Sehr gut zusammengefasst, Herr Gruber! Kennen Sie das relativ neue Buch bereits, das im vergangenen Jahr erschienen ist: Benedikt, A., Die Mirakelberichte des Gnadenortes Mariahilf in der St.-Jakobs-Kirche in Innsbruck (1662-1724), Wagner'sche Verlagsanstalt: Innsbruck 2022? Sehr sch├Âner Bildteil und man findet alles, was Sie gerafft geschildert haben, ausf├╝hrlich dargestellt.