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Theotokos of Vladimir

The Theotokos of Vladimir is an icon depicting Mary and her son Jesus Christ. It is believed that the evangelist Lucas painted this icon on a piece of wood originating from a table from the house of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. It is also believed that it ended up in the Byzantine Empire in the year AD450. According to scientists, however, the work was painted at the beginning of the 12th century in Byzantine.

In 1131, the leaders of Constantinople gave the icon, which was named “Theotokos” (Greek for “Mary”), to a Russian archduke as a present. During the journey, the horses pulling the coach didn’t want to travel farther than the city of Vladimir, which the Russians took as a sign that Theotokos herself indicated that she belonged to Vladimir. The icon has not left Russia ever since (it does hang somewhere in Moscow now) and the Russians believe they owe their prosperity to this icon. Not surprisingly, it is the most copied icon in the world. The jewellery belonging to this work are based on the round yet worn aureole of Mary.

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