173 

Icon: Kurkskaya Mother of God


Number: 173 Period: 19th century
Name: Icon: Kurkskaya Mother of God Size: 35,5 x 30 cm
Origin: Russia Price: on request


The Kursk Root Icon, or Mother of God Kurskaya, is considered a miracle-working icon in the Russian Orthodox Church. According to tradition, in 1259 a hunter came across the icon between the roots of a tree in the forest in Kurks. When he picked up the icon, a spring of water burst from the spot where the icon had been resting on the ground. The hunter recognized the power of the icon, and built a chapel at the site of the spring. People began to travel to the chapel from the nearby city of Rylsk and were reportedly healed by the icon.  In 1385, the Kursk region was attacked by Tatars. The attackers tried in vain to burn the chapel housing the icon, but it wouldn’t ignite. The Tatars then broke the icon in half, but the two parts were later seamlessly rejoined. The Church officially venerates this icon on November 27. It is also commemorated on September 8 (along with other sign Mother of God icons), the date of its discovery, and on March 8. On this date in 1898, the icon survived a fire in the cathedral where it was then located.

The icon is a token of protection for Russian warriors, particularly the Cossacks, and since the 1920s, it has been a major sacred object for the Russian Orthodox living far from Russia. Thus, it became a symbol of unity for the Russian Church abroad.

After World War II, the icon was moved throughout Europe for safe-keeping and made its way to New York in 1950. It is now located at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Sign in New York.

The Mother of God  is pictured in the ancient praying attitude, with the hands raised up and spread. On her chest she wears a round shield with a picture of Christ Emmanuel, Christ as child.

God the Father (Lord Sabaoth) is above her. In the corners are the four Evangelists. Nine Old Testament prophets surround her, depicted amongst a stylised vine — a symbol of Chritian faith, based on Christ parable: ‘I am the true vine’ (John 15:1). They hold in their hands Old Testament scrolls, with texts prefiguring the Mother of God. The prophets (clockwise from top right) are King Solomon, Daniel, Jeremiah, Elijah, Habakkuk (or Awakum), Gideon, Isaijah, Moses, and King David.

The borders of this cherished family icon have depictions of the Apostles Peter and Paul, Sergius of Radonesh and Tatiana, the name saints of the commissioner.

The icon is a fine example of painting in the style of highly-skilled Old Believers.



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