Icon Akimov 102.083 «The Smolensk Icon of the Mother of God»
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- Miniature relief, casting, gilding, niello, handwork.
"On the icon the sacred image is in a fretted ornate encasement, and looks as if illumined with rays of Divine Glory. This icon is one of the oldest Russian hallows; as a paternal blessing it was brought to Russia in 1046 by Anna, the Greek princess, the future wife of Vsevolod, Prince of Tchernigov, and the future mother of the Great prince Vladimir Monomach who took the icon to Smolensk. Since then the image had been called “Hodegetria” of Smolensk.
In Greek “hodegetria” means “guide”. “Hodegetria” was fabled to be the first image of the Mother of God painted by the Apostle Luke. Pulcheria, the sister of the Emperor Theodosius II (408-450) got the icon as a present, and had an imperial church guilt for it on the seashore. It was she who first named the icon “the Guide who indicated the way to all kinds of good”. The Mother of God on the icon as if points indeed to the Infant Christ who sits on Her arm in a kingly way, as to the source of salvation. The name “Hodegetria” itself appeared in 9th century, and is related to the miraculous healing of two blind persons. The Most Holy Mother of God appeared before them, and took them to the monastery where the icon was kept.
The Smolensk Icon of the Mother of God was one of the most exact copies of the ancient icon by the Apostle Luke. That great sacred object had of yore protected the Southwest of Russia where the most convenient ways might have lead the conquerors deep into the country.
The first considerable invasion occurred in 1240 when Tatars headed by Batu Khan took the field into Southern Russia. They ravaged and destroyed many towns and stopped 38 kilometers southward from Smolensk. The town destruction seemed to be unavoidable. According to the “Legend of the Smolensk Icon of the Mother of God”, the Most Holy Mother of God through Her Smolensk image called upon for a warrior Mercurius by name, and promised that he would gain victory over the enemy at the cost of his life. St Mercurius set off courageously to the Tatar camp, and fought there with the leader of the Tatar army, a giant possessed of immense strength. Unable to stand against the warrior of Christ, Tatar had to draw the troops off Smolensk. St Mercurius was himself killed in the battle.
In the 14th century Smolensk was occupied fraudulently by the Lithuanian Prince Vitautas, the father-in-law of Basil I, the Grand Prince of Moscow. After the city occupation Vitautas promptly sent the icon to Moscow. And the city was liberated only years after the icon being returned. In 1525 the Grand Prince Basil II founded the Novo-Dyevitchi Convent (the Convent of the Maidens) in the memory of the event wherein he copy of the wonder-making image was put.
In 1812 the icon was evacuated to Yaroslavl, Smolensk being surrendered to Napoleon. After the victory the icon was returned to the city and was kept there up to the 20th century in the Dormition Cathedral. In 1941 Smolensk was occupied by Fascists, and the icon disappeared. But a good many of copies of the Smolensk image have been being stayed all over Russia for more than 500 years. Many of them showed their gracious power more than once.
The Smolensk image is prayed to in maladies, in family troubles and life misfortunes. “To You, kindly intercession, and invincible wall, and refuge of peace, and grace source, to You the Queen of Heaven we invoke and pray for protection and delivering from troubles” – is written on the locket reverse. These words express the believers’ confidence in the help of the Most Holy Mother that She gives to people through Her wonder making image.
The icon observance is instituted on August 10 (July 28)."
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