Monday, November 28, 2005

My favorite icon

The Theotokos of Vladimir (also called "The Virgin of Vladimir."

For my less-theologically-minded readers: If you're not up on your Greek, "Theotokos" means "Mother of God." Eastern Catholics and Eastern Orthodox often refer to the Blessed Virgin this way.

This particular icon was supposedly painted by St. Luke and given as a gift to the Duke of Kiev in 1131. It found its way to the city of Vladimir, where the beautiful Assumption Cathedral was built to hold it; eventually it wound up in the Cathedral of the Dormition in Moscow. As you might imagine, the 1,000 year old image has suffered some damage over time. I read somewhere that, over the centuries, would-be restorers have repainted the icon many times over the years; only the faces of the Madonna and Christ remain original.

In my art class last quarter we studied the Vladimirskaya. The Virgin's eyes are so expressive of her sorrow that it's enough to induce sadness and guilt in any viewer with the slightest bit of sensitivity and conscience.

A closer look:

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