On Tuesday, June 3rd, the Russian Orthodox Church celebrates a holiday devoted to the Vladimir Icon of Madonna.
The icon, which is believed to be painted by Luke the Evangelist in the 1st century and given to Grand Prince Yuri Dolgoruky in the 12th century, is Russia's greatest relic. It was named the Vladimir icon after being transferred to the city of Vladimir, centre of European Russia, in 1160.
A lot of legends describe how Madonna helped Russian people by means of this icon.
Thus, the holiday of June 3rd was introduced to commemorate Moscow's miraculous rescue from the invasion of Tartars led by Crimean Khan Makhmet-Girei in 1521.
At that time a pious blind conventual had a vision of Moscow Saints going out of the Kremlin's Spasskiye Gates, leaving the city and taking its main relic, the Vladimir icon, with them as the God's punishment to Muscovites for their sins. At the gates they were met by St. Sergius Radonezhsky and Varlaam Khutynsky who tearfully begged them not to leave Moscow. Together they put up fervent prayers to God to forgive sinners and rescue the city from the enemies.
Moscow Saint Vassily had a similar vision. He saw that by Madonna's intercession and the saints' prayers the city would be saved.
Even Khan Makhmet-Girei had a vision of Madonna. He saw her surrounded by a powerful army sweeping down on the Tartar troops. The Tartars fled in fear, and the Russian capital was saved.
June 3rd also celebrates the copies of the Vladimir icon, the Pskov-Pechora icon "Affection" /1524/, the Zaonikiyev icon /1588/, the Krasnogorsk icon /1603/, the Oransk icon /1634/, the Tupiches-Rostov and Florishchev icons /the 17th century/ and the Syrkov icon /1548/.