Monday, November 2, 2015

RELIGIOUS ART - Icons from the Bible, Our Lady of Kazan Russia, Black Madonna of Kazan, 18th century


Our Lady of Kazan Russia, Black Madonna of Kazan18th century. Hardwood single board with two back side Sponki (lost). Tempera on gesso (plaster). Brustbildnis (half-lengthportrait) of the Virgin with the Christ Child standing on her left. He raises his right hand in a blessing gesture. Driven, engraved and gilded Metall oklad with floral decor. 31 x 28 cm

Kazan is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Tatarstan, Russia. It is the eighth most populous city in Russia, and lies at the confluence of the Volga and Kazanka Rivers in European Russia.

Our Lady of Kazan, Black Madonna of Kazan (so-called both because of the often dusky color of their skin (in some cases, after cleaning, attributed to the accumulation of generations of soot from candles burnt under the images) and because in many cases they were either excavated from underground ruins or were originally worshipped in underground caverns, perhaps due to Marian persecutions). The history of the convent of Our Lady of Kazan is inseparably linked with finding, glorifying and honoring the mira­cle-working icon of Our Lady of Kazan in Russia. This icon is one of the most honored and esteemed in the Russian Church. 

At the beginning of July, 1579 there was a conflagration in Kazan, the capital of Tatarstan. The fire enveloped quite a district that joined the Kremlin's north­east. The yard of Danila Onuchin, the strelets sotnik (Russian light infantry command of a hundred men in Age of Empires), were burned down. Many families had lost their homes, and had to rebuild  before the Russian winter would come. Among those people trying to restore their homes was Daniel Onuchin. He had a daughter Matrona, nine years old.  

The Mother of God appeared in a dream to Matrona and commanded her to find Her icon, hidden in the ground by secret confessors of Orthodoxy, in the time of Moslem rule. Thrice the Mother of God appeared and pointed out the spot, where the wonder working icon had been concealed. Finally, Matrona, with her mother began to dig in the indicated place and they found the sacred icon. To the place of the miraculous discovery came archbishop Jeremii at the head of his clergy and transported the holy image into a church of Saint Nicholas situated nearby; then,  amidst a church procession they transferred it to the Annunciation cathedral – the first Orthodox temple in the city of Kazan, erected by tsar Ivan the Terrible. During the procession there occurred the healing of two blind men – Iosif and Nikita.

Tsar Ivan the Terrible gave orders to build at the place of its appearance a temple in honour of the Kazan Icon, and to found there also a women's monastery. Matrona and her mother, instrumental in finding the sacred icon, accepted monastic tonsure at this monastery. 

Invocation of the Virgin Mary through the icon was credited to 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.

On the night of June 29, 1904, the icon was stolen from the church in Kazan where it had been kept for centuries (the cathedral was later blown up by the communist authorities). Thieves apparently coveted the icon's gold frame. The Orthodox Church interpreted the disappearance of the icon as a sign of tragedies that would plague Russia after the image of the Holy Protectress of Russia had been lost. Indeed, the Russian peasantry was wont to credit all the evils of the Revolution of 1905, as well as Russia's defeat in the Russo-Japanese War, to the desecration of the image. More

Vladimir Putin ordered that the Black Madonna of Kazan, the holiest icon of the Russian Orthodox Church, be flown over the Black Sea, many believed he wished to secure blessings for the Winter Olympics in Sochi.

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