The icon of The Mother of God of the Passion belongs to the iconographic type known as Hodegetria. It shows the Theotokos with her head inclined over the Child Christ sitting in Her arms. The Divine Child is holding the Mother of God by Her right hand: with his right hand he holds Her thumb and squeezes Her hand with his left. The icon of The Mother of God of the Passion got its name from a depiction of two angels carrying the instruments of Christ’s Passion – the cross, the sponge and the pierce. In most of the icons the head of the Child Christ is shown turned toward the flying angel.
The earliest known depiction of the icon in the Russian iconography is a 13th century icon of the Mother of God of the Passion, now located at the Kalyazin Museum. Since the 11th century in Byzantine art have been widespread the icons of the Mother of God with the Child Christ, flanked by the angels worshipping Her. Later, in the 12th – 13th centuries, the worshipping scene was complemented by the Passion of Christ theme. This characteristic iconographic version had developed in the 15th century Italo-Cretan art, to a large extent, in the artwork of Andreas Ritzos (1422–1492), who is believed to be the author of this iconographic version.
In Rus, this iconographic type became widespread in the 17th century following the laudation of the miraculous icon in Nizhny Novgorod. According to the Tale of the Paletskaya icon, a female peasant of the village of Palets recovered after she prayed to this icon. In 1641, the icon was transferred to Moscow and copied by the order of Tsar Mikhail Feodorovich, after which it was returned to Palets. The copy of the miraculous icon was placed in the stone Church of the Mother of God Hodegetria built in 1646 at Tver Gate in commemoration of the meeting of the Paletski miraculous icon. The church was subsequently transformed into a cathedral church at the convent built by the order of Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich. After the closure of the monastery in the 20th century the icon was transferred from the Monastery to the Church of the Resurrection at Sokolniki where it has remained to this day.
The icon of the Mother of God of the Passion from the Passion Monastery in Moscow was venerated as miraculous. The national celebration of the icon was set on the sixth Sunday after Easter, in commemoration of the first miracle produced by the icon in Nizhny Novgorod, and on August 26 (August 13, O.S.), in commemoration of the meeting of the icon in Moscow.
Zhanna G. Belik,
Ph.D. in Art history, senior research fellow at the Andrei Rublyov Museum, custodian of the tempera painting collection.
Olga E. Savchenko,
research fellow at the Andrei Rublyov Museum.
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