Temple Gallery

Established 1959

Virgin of Kazan - exhibited at the Temple Gallery, specialists in Russian icons

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YY033. Virgin of Kazan

Russian (Popular Tradition)
Circa 1800
37.3 x 30.6 cmClick here to convert metric size to imperial

£1,680Click here to convert price to USD or EUR

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The Virgin of Kazan, is one of the many icons after the famous prototype of the Virgin which the Russian Orthodox Church venerates more than any other image of the Mother of God. It has been considered a palladium of Russia for centuries. Two major cathedrals, in Moscow and in St Petersburg, are consecrated in her name, as are numerous churches throughout Russia. Her feast days are July 21 and November 4 (which is also the Day of National Unity).

The icon was discovered on July 8, 1579, underground in the city of Kazan, after the Virgin Mary herself reportedly revealed its location to a little girl, Matrona. The icon was credited by the Russian commanders - Dmitry Pozharsky and Mikhail Kutuzov - with helping the country to repel the Polish invasion of 1612, the Swedish invasion of 1709 and Napoleon's invasion of 1812. The original icon was kept in one of the monasteries in Kazan, whereas its ancient and venerated copies have been displayed at the Kazan Cathedrals of Moscow, Yaroslavl, and St. Petersburg.

During the night of June 29, 1904 the icon was stolen from a cathedral in Kazan where it had been kept for centuries. Thieves apparently coveted the icon's golden setting, which featured many jewels of the highest value. When several years later Russian police finally apprehended the thieves and recovered the precious setting, they declared that the icon itself had been cut to pieces and burnt. The Orthodox Church interpreted the disappearance of the icon as a portent of the tragedies that would plague Russia after the Holy Protectress of Russia had been lost.

After the Russian Revolution of 1917, there were many theories suggesting that the original icon was in fact preserved in St. Petersburg and later sold by the Bolsheviks abroad. Although such theories were not given credit by the Russian Orthodox church, one of several reputed ‘originals’ (in fact dating from the 18th century) was acquired by the Roman Catholic Church and enshrined in Fátima, Portugal in the 1970s. In 1993, the icon was given to Pope John Paul II, who took it to the Vatican and kept it in his study, where it was venerated by him for eleven years. He said of the icon, "it has been by my side and accompanied me with a maternal gaze in my daily service to the Church". John Paul II wished to visit Moscow or Kazan in order to return the icon to the Russian Orthodox Church. When these efforts were blocked by the Moscow Patriarchate, the icon was presented to the Russian Church unconditionally in August 2004. On August 26, 2004 it was exhibited for veneration in the altar of St. Peter's Basilica and then delivered to Moscow. On the next feast day of the holy icon, July 21, 2005, Patriarch Alexis II and Mintimer Shaymiev, the President of Tatarstan, placed it at the Annunciation Cathedral of the Kazan Kremlin. That icon is enshrined in the Church of the Elevation of the Holy Cross, the site where the original icon of Our Lady of Kazan was found. (Adapted from