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An Icon Of Stalin ((INSTALL))

The icon was presented by Izborsk Club director Alexander Prokhanov during a ceremony Tuesday in which an Orthodox priest recited a prayer before blessing the icon and sprinkling it with water from the Volga River.

An Icon of Stalin

The local Orthodox Church archdiocese said the priest who led the service had been wrong to do so, describing the icon as a "brazen provocation" and based on a "perversion of religious and patriotic sentiments," the news website reported.

Prokhanov acknowledged what he referred to as the "mixed response" the icon has received, but defended its depiction of Stalin. He told Region64 that the Izborsk Club holds Russia's World War II victory sacred, as "the triumph of the saints over hell."

The icon was painted by an unknown artist most likely in Constantinople. It was sent to Kiev as a gift before being transferred to the Assumption Cathedral in Vladimir. It is traditionally said that the icon did not leave Vladimir until 1395, when it was brought to Moscow to protect the city from an invasion by Timur, although the historical accuracy of this claim is uncertain. By at least the sixteenth century, it was in the Dormition Cathedral in Moscow where it remained until it was moved to the State Tretyakov Gallery after the Russian Revolution.

It was subject to an ownership dispute in the 1990s between the gallery and Moscow Patriarchate, which ended with its relocation to the Church of St. Nicholas in Tolmachi. An arrangement was made to operate the church with dual status as a house church and part of the museum. The icon remains there today, and is only accessible via an underground passage from the gallery to the church, where liturgies are still held.

The icon is dated to the earlier part of the 12th century, and arrived in Rus' around 1131. This is consistent with the account given in the Russian Chronicles.[2][3][4][5] Similar to other high quality Byzantine works of art, it is thought to have been painted in Constantinople.[5][6][7] Only the faces are original, with the clothes repainted after suffering damage when a metal cover or riza was placed over them[2][5] and in a fire in 1195.[5][4]

In about 1131, the Greek Patriarch of Constantinople sent the icon as a gift to Grand Duke Yuri Dolgorukiy of Kiev.[8][9] Academic Sona Hoisington attributes this in part to a greater effort by Byzantines to convert and Christianize the Slavic peoples at the time.[10] It was kept in a Vyshhorod nunnery until Yuri's son, Andrey of Bogolyubovo, brought it to Vladimir in 1155.[8]

In a traditional account the horses transporting the icon had stopped near Vladimir and refused to go further. Accordingly, many people of Rus interpreted this as a sign that the Theotokos[a] wanted the icon to stay there. The place was named Bogolyubovo, or "the one loved by God". Andrey placed it in his Bogolyubovo residence and built the Assumption Cathedral to legitimize his claim that Vladimir had replaced Kiev as the principal city of Rus.[11] The icon was soon moved to the Assumption Cathedral after its consecration in 1160.[12]

Following the consecration of the Assumption Cathedral, which was soon followed by other churches dedicated to the Virgin, there is no record of the icon ever leaving Vladimir until 1395. However, its presence did not prevent the sack and burning of the city by the Mongols in 1238, when the icon was damaged in the fire. It was restored soon after the event, and again in 1431 and in 1512.[13][14][9]

A legend formed that the icon was painted by Luke the Evangelist from life; the first written account of this story dates back to 1512.[15] The intercession of the Theotokos through the image has also been credited with saving Moscow from Tatar hordes in 1451 and 1480.[12]

The image was brought from Vladimir to Moscow in 1395, during Tamerlane's invasion. The site where the Muscovites met the Vladimir delegation is commemorated by the Sretensky Monastery[b] which is considered to be built where it occurred. However, no archeological evidence supports this claim, and much of the fifteenth-to-sixteenth century church was destroyed after renovations by the Russian Orthodox Church.[16] Vasily I of Moscow spent a night crying over the icon, and Tamerlane's armies retreated the same day. The Muscovites refused to return the icon to Vladimir and placed it in the Dormition Cathedral of the Moscow Kremlin.[17]

Among icons of Virgin Mary with Jesus, Our lady of Vladimir is classed as an Eleusa icon (Russian: Oumilenie), due to the tender attachment between mother and child.[28] Theologians and believers have also commented upon the icons symbology and the religious sentiments it inspires. Contemplating the icon, theologian Henri Nouwen, remarked that the Virgin's eyes glance at neither the child or the viewer but appear to "look inward and outward at once"; that her free hand gestures towards the baby to "open a space for us to approach Jesus without fear"; and, that the child is shown as "a wise man dressed in adult clothes."[29] Literary scholar, S. S. Averintsev interpreted the mix of maternal tenderness and poignant sorrow seen in Mary's expression, as representative of the emotions generated by the events of Nativity and Calvary, respectively.[28] Jesus's bare feet are seen as symbolizing his physical reality; his garments of gold, the Kingdom of Heaven; and the three stars on Mary's dress (one occluded by the child), "her virginity before, during and after her son's birth."[30]

Its artistic quality has been highly praised. Art historian David Talbot Rice said that "[Our Lady of Vladimir] admitted by all who have seen it to be one of the most outstanding religious paintings of the world."[7] Art historian George Heard Hamilton praises its "craftsmanship and conception", and notes how in its representation of the subject's faces, the icon subtly transitions from its normal use of contour lines to a refined surface texture. It is painted in an artistic style typical for Byzantine art of the period with features including smaller mouths, refined eyes, and elongating Mary's nose. However, by avoiding the use of demarcating line, as became common in later Byzantine art, and by setting up the complex interplay of the mother and child's glances, the icon adds to the illusion of life in the piece. The child's features are reminiscent of classical sculpture, though the artist renders an expression truer to an actual infant's.[9] The expressive and humanistic character of the icon differentiates it from earlier Byzantine art and exemplify the artistic developments seen during the Komnenos dynasty.[4][6][7]

The icon is generally considered to be one of the most cherished symbols in Russian history.[23][31][32] Academic David Miller has ascribed this to its close connection to Russian national consciousness throughout its existence.[33] Its transfer from Kiev to Vladimir was used by Bogolyubsky to legitimize Vladimir's claim as the new center of government in the Rus'.[9]

Our Lady of Vladimir's veneration is also likely enhanced by the fact that the Theotokos is regarded as the holy protectress of Russia.[11] The venerated image has been used in celebration of coronations of tsars, elections of patriarchs, and other important ceremonies of state.[11][20][34] The icon has three feast days held throughout the year in celebration to specific events it is associated with:[12]

In 1997, the Tretyakov completed a full restoration of the church.[14] Security improvements to store and display art were added, and an underground passageway was additionally made to connect it to the State Tretyakov Gallery.[39] In order to house the famous icon, a temperature controlled bulletproof glass case was commissioned.[14] On 7 September 1996, Our Lady of Vladimir was first installed in the special case located within the church, and the next day Patriarch Alexy II consecrated the church. According to Archpriest Nikolai Sokolov, the rector for the church, the case would able to withstand the firing of a Kalashnikov rifle as well as many other potential hazards.[40]

Due to its dual status as both church and museum, visitors are allowed to pray before the icon and divine Liturgies are regularly held on selected days. However, visitors can only enter the church through the Tretyakov Gallery and via the underground passageway.[14][40]

Even more than most, the original icon has been repeatedly duplicated for centuries, and many copies also have considerable artistic and religious significance of their own.[41] According to Suzanne Massie, it became a standard for many Russian contemporary depictions of Mary.[42]

On the icon, the blessed Matrona blesses Stalin for the defense of Moscow. Stalin on the icon is depicted in a full-length overcoat. The icon was created on the initiative of the rector of the temple, hegumen Evstafiy (Zhakov).

According to Father Evstafiy, the icon of the Matrona of Moscow in the church of St. Nicholas, located between the buildings of the Russian State Library in Moscow, prompted him to create the icon. This icon is located near the entrance to the church, and next to it are images of key moments in the life of the saint, and on one of these images the Matrona of Moscow is depicted in the company of Stalin. According to the Dean of the Churches of the Central District of Father Vladimir, the Church of St. Nicholas received the icon as a gift, and it could have been painted by one of the icon painters of the Intercession Monastery, where the relics of St. Matrona are buried.

We often misuse the word icon and legend but black Stalin was and is both legend and icon! May you rest in peace! To perform on the same stage as you or to be in your presence backstage growing up hearing your music was living dreams! May you be right there with Peter sorting out those who come through the gates and making the afterlife even more peaceful!

Born and raised in the city of San Fernando, Black Stalin was a cultural icon who contributed immeasurably to the calypso and carnival art forms. He was known for his political commentary, winning the Calypso Monarch competition on five occasions and the Calypso King of the Word title back in 1999. Black Stalin was also awarded the Hummingbird Medal (Silver) for his contribution to Trinidad and Tobago culture.

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