"Hands off That Sacred Image!" The Vladimir Icon and Its Power

Bakatkina, Maria, Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures, University of Virginia
Dianina, Ekaterina, Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures, University of Virginia

The Vladimir icon is the oldest Byzantine icon that was delivered to Kievan Rus’ in the twelfth century. This icon is an object of immense political, religious, and cultural power that was brilliantly used to influence people during many periods of Russian history between the eleventh and twenty-first centuries. The course of history shows that the icon has been used as a political instrument to consolidate power and control over regions and people, as a piece of art that has to be restored and preserved, and as a beautiful symbol of faith and devotion. The people of Russia continue to venerate and honor the icon today. This work traces the history of this icon through analysis of Russian primary sources. It answers the following questions: from where, when, and why was the icon brought to Kievan Rus’? Who was the original painter of it? Why does it have the name Vladimir Mother of God? Where and why was the icon moved through the centuries? What was the primary purpose of the icon? How did the icon end up in Moscow? What happened to it during the Soviet time? What is icon’s fate today?

MA (Master of Arts)
Icon, Vladimir, Mother of God
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