On Monday, the Russian Orthodox Church marks a holiday devoted to the Icon of Our Lady of Vladimir.
The icon is believed to have been painted by St Luke the Gospel Writer back in the 1st century. In the 12th century, the icon was presented to Prince Yury Dolgoruky, the founder of Moscow. It has ever since been revered as Russia's greatest shrine.
The icon has been known as the Icon of Our Lady of Vladimir since it was brought to the city of Vladimir in 1160. Numerous legends tell how the Holy Virgin helped the Russian people through this icon.
In 1395, the icon was brought back to Moscow from Vladimir to defend the city from Tamerlane's nomadic hordes. September 8 has ever since been marked as the religious feast of the Purification of Our Lady.
Legend says Temerlane was sleeping in his marquee when Moscow residents were meeting the icon on Kuchkovo field. He saw a high mountain in his dream. Saints were descending from that mountain holding golden batons in their hand, and the Holy Virgin appeared lit with divine light. She ordered the khan to leave Russia.
Tamerlane woke up in awe and asked to interpret the dream. He was told that Holy Virgin Mary, the Mother and defender of Christians, came to him in his dream. Tamerlane then ordered his troops to retreat.
On January 15, it was reported that the Russian government began to develop sanctions against several officials at the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA)