Russian icons

Annunciation T-1

Origin
: Russia, probably Trinity Monastery, Sergiev Posad
Period
: mid-16th century
Size
: 25.5 x 20.5 cm

The Annunciation scene is set against an elaborate architectural background. To the left stands the Archangel Gabriel, holding a messenger staff and making a gesture of blessing towards the Virgin Mary with his right hand. The Virgin who bows her head in reverence, is sitting on a stool to the right. She holds a thread of wool in her hands, a detail which alludes to a passage from the apocryphal Proto-Evangelium of James: the moment the Archangel Gabriel appeared to her, the Virgin Mary was spinning purple thread for the new curtain of the Temple in Jerusalem, which had to be made by eight virgins from the house of David. The Holy Spirit descends on her, represented as three fine rays coming from a segment of heaven. In a recessed area in the upper border of the icon, the Trinity is depicted against a dark blue background with clouds. The three angels all sit behind a set table, holding a messenger’s staff and making a blessing gesture. On the left border the metropolitan of Rostov, St Leontii and the monk St Nikon, pupil and successor of St Sergei of Radonezh, are depicted. St Sergei, the founder of the Trinity Monastery near Moscow, appears on the right border, represented half-length just like the other two saints.  

The representation of the Trinity and of the saints Sergei and Nikon point towards a link with the Trinity monastery in Sergiev Posad. This monastery was founded in 1337 by St Sergei of Radonezh, one of the most venerated Russian saints, who had built a wooden church in honour of the Trinity on Makovets Hill. About six months before his death in 1392, St Sergei named his pupil Nikon his successor as the abbot of the monastery. Before the end of 1392, the monastery was attacked by Tatars and devastated. Nikon quickly worked to restore the buildings but in 1408 the monastery was again attacked by the Tatars and burned down. Once again Nikon led the reconstruction of the monastery, which continued over the next several years. During the construction of the new Trinity Cathedral in 1422, the abbot came upon the relics of St. Sergei in the ruins of the earlier, destroyed church. He placed  the relics in the new cathedral and commissioned the famous icon painters Andrei Rublev and Daniel Cherny (the Black), to paint the interior of the cathedral, which was finished in 1425, and the now world famous Trinity-icon. Nikon died the following year, on November 17, 1426. He was buried near the southern wall of the Trinity Cathedral and canonized in 1547. The following year, a church was built over his grave and dedicated to him. It seems likely that the present icon was painted not long after the saint’s canonization.

Another interesting iconographic detail on the icon is the palm tree painted in the background to the right of the left building. The only other known Russian Annunciation-icon showing a palm tree (in fact two palm trees) in the background, is the Annunciation from the Feast-row of the iconostasis of the main church of the Kirillov monastery in northern Russia, painted at the end of the 15th century. The Kirillov monastery was founded by another of St Sergei’s pupils, St. Kirill of Beloozero.     

Stylistically and technically our icon is very similar to the 16th century icon of the Hodegetria Mother of God from the Rostov Church in Vologda (now in the Vologda Museum).  Both icons might have been painted by the same master. This painter of the Vologda-icon in all probability used the Annunciaton-icon in the Kirillov monastery as an example for the composition of our Annunciation-icon.

Myrrh-Bearing Women at the Empty Tomb T-2

Origin
: Russia, Vologda
Period
: early 16th century
Size
: 75.5 x 61 cm

This monumental icon comes from the Feastday row of an iconostasis. According to the evangelists various women went to Christ’s tomb on Easter morning to anoint His body with spices. However, they found the stone rolled back from the entrance and the tomb empty; an angel informed them that Christ had risen.
 
The icon incorporates various elements of the story in a rocky landscape. The white-clad angel is portrayed to the right of the oblong stone sarcophagus. He is seated on the stone that has rolled away from the entrance to Christ’s tomb. One of the angel’s wings points upwards, the other downwards, as if he has just alighted; the position of his wings represents his role as messenger between heaven and earth. With his right hand he makes a declamatory gesture and draws the Virgin Mary’s attention to the empty grave white clothes, symbol of Christ’s miraculous rising and victory over death. To the left, the Mother of God stands behind the sarcophagus, holding a small pot of myrrh. She is accompanied by a group of four women standing together closely, who witness the event. In the centre, the resurrected Christ appears with a fluttering mantle. His appearance alludes to Christ’s meeting with Mary Magdalene in the garden of Olives shortly after his death.

The icon is painted in bright colours. The style of painting has a lyrical character.The graceful movement of the elegant, elongated figures, with their relatively small heads, remind of the icons of Dionisy, one of the three famous icons painters of Russia who was active around 1500. His influence was felt in icon painting workshops throughout Russia in the early 16th century. The specific colour scheme and the execution of the white highlights of the present icon, point in the direction of the Vologda area as the place of origin.

Evangelist St Marc T-3

Origin
: Russia
Period
: 16th century
Size
: 52.3 x 41 cm

The icon shows St Marc the Evangelist against an architectural background, on a wooden seat, inclined, facing left, and wearing his traditional dress of a red tunic and a dark blue mantle (pallium). His sandal-clad feet rest on a foot-stool. In his left hand he holds an open text scroll and with his right hand he holds a quill, while making a gesture of blessing. Next to him, an inkpot is placed on a small table. The bright red cloth (velum) connecting the two buildings in the background indicates, that the writing of the evangelist is taking place indoors.

On the icon, St Luke’s role as a writer is emphasized. Writers had been depicted in this way ever since the time of the Roman and Byzantine empires: side-on, seated with their feet on a rest and with an inkpot close to hand. Classical authors of important writings are depicted in this manner in miniature on the first page of their works.

The icon comes from the Royal Door of an iconostasis. During the celebration of liturgy in the orthodox church, the opening of the Royal Door signifies the opening of the Royal Kingdom for believers. The closing of the Royal Door reminds them of the eviction from the Garden of Eden after the Fall. Traditionally, the Annunciation is depicted on the ornate top of the Royal Door, whereas the four evangelist St John, St Matthew, St Luke and St Marc are depicted below. Usually St Marc is depicted below on the right wing of the Door.

St Nicholas the Miracle-Worker T-4

Origin
: Russia
Period
: mid-16th century
Size
: 24 x 21.7 cm

Against a gold ground, St Nicholas is represented half-length as a bishop. He can be easily identified from his high, balding forehead (a sign of his goodness and wisdom), his short hair and full, round beard. The finely painted face of St Nicholas shows a high degree of spirituality. The saint wears the liturgical robes of a bishop of the Orthodox Church, a chasuble (phelonion) and a white stole (omophorion) decorated with large black crosses. With his right hand he makes a gesture of blessing and with his other hand he is holding a closed Book of Gospels.

Shestodnev (Six Days-icon) T-5

Origin
: Russia, Moscow
Period
: mid-16th century
Size
: 28 x 23 cm

The iconography of the Six Days-icon was inspired by the Shestodnev of Kirill the Philosopher (1130-1182), a liturgical cycle of prayers for the week. Kirill the Philosopher is considered as one of the first and finest theologians of Kievan Rus'.

The scene of the Anastasis in the upper left corner symbolises the week as a whole, the Synaxis (Assembly) of the Archangels next to it refers to Monday, the Beheading of St John the Forerunner to Tuesday, the Annunciation to Wednesday, the Washing of the Apostle’s Feet to Thursday and the Crucifixion to Friday and Saturday.

The icon, an interesting example of 16th century Russian miniature painting, is executed in a refined style with a rich and subtle colour palette, reminiscent of book illumination.

An important figure in the development of 16th century icon painting in Russia was Makary (1482- 1563), the metropolitan of Moscow. Makary learned to paint icons in his youth and continued to produce them throughout his life. As archbishop of Novgorod (1528-1542) he stimulated the art of icon painting with his spiritual energy and new ideas. Around the middle of the 16th century he founded the Kremlin workshop for icon painting in Moscow. The painters concentrated on illuminating books and painting small icons, with the emphasis lying increasingly on refinement and detailed finish. Thus a growing movement developed away from large scale art towards small minutely painted works.

Christ of Smolensk T-6

Origin
: Russia, Moscow
Period
: third quarter 16th century
Size
: 31 x 22.6 cm

On the icon, Christ is depicted against an olive green background as the Pantocrator (Almighty): standing in a frontal position, with his right hand raised in a blessing gesture and his left hand holding an open book of gospels. He wears a long red tunic (chiton), symbol of his divine nature, and a blue mantle (himation), symbolising his human nature. The subtle palette used in the icon is dominated by warm colours, consisting of ochre, deep red, blue and green. The face is finely painted. Christ is looking at the viewer but at the same time seems to be deep in thought. The combination of the elongated body of Christ and the relatively small head is meant to evoke the divine.

Although the icon is of small size, the elongated figure produces a monumental effect and at the same time, in combination with the fluttering mantle, endows the image with elegance. The overall style of painting suggests a dating in the third quarter of the 16th century and a provenance from an excellent Moscow workshop.

The most ancient icons of the type of the Saviour of Smolensk appeared during the reign of tsar Ivan the Terrible in the second half of the 16th century. The present icon dates from this earliest period. Usually by either side of Christ, kneeling in prayer at his feet, are St. Sergius of Radonezh and St Varlaam of Khutyn, with in the upper part of the icon two angels showing the instruments of passion. The present icon however shows the very rare variant where the focus solely is on the standing figure of Christ. Thus the icon painter has created a highly concentrated image with a strong expressive power.

Vladimirskaya Mother of God T-7

Origin
: Russia, Moscow
Period
: late 16th century
Size
: 32 x 26.5 cm

The type of the Mother of God Vladimirskaya is one of the most famous icons in Russia. On the icon, the Virgin carries the Christ Child on her right arm. With her left hand she gestures towards her Son. The Christ Child presses his cheek against his mother’s and gazes at her. Mary does not respond to his gaze but looks past Him. The icon emphasizes the human aspect of Christ and the focal point is the intimate tie with his mother, against whom He is nestling.

Diptych: Panagia with Mother of God of the Sign, Holy Trinity, Mandylion and St Simeon Stylites T-8

Origin
: Russia
Period
: second half 16th century
Size
: Open: 7 x 9.3 cm / closed: 7 x 4.7 cm

The left medallion of this double sided Panagia depicts the Mother of God Znamenie on the inside and the pilar saint Simeon on the outside. On the right medallion, the Holy Trinity is represented on the inside and the Mandylion on the outside. Both medallions are finely carved in walrus bone and set into a silver gilt filigree holder.

In Russia by the 16th century, Panagia had taken the form of a mostly wooden, ivory or walrus bone round diptych, which could be opened to see the finely carved images. These Panagia were worn by bishops and patriarchs.

The art of wood and ivory carving in Russia was brought to perfection by the monk Ambrose, who worked in the workshop of the Trinity Monastery in the 15th century. In the 16th century, especially in the second half, complicated many-figured compositions became wide-spread. During this period of time some of the main monasteries in Russia had special workshops where pectoral icons, crosses and Panagias were produced for the clergy and for sale to visiting pilgrims. Later on, in the 17th century, the complicated carvings were largely replaced by brass castings that were sometimes made from ancient moulds.

St George Slaying the Dragon T-9

Origin
: Russia, Vologda
Period
: second half 16th century
Size
: 20.5 x 16 cm

Against a gold background, the martyr St George is represented seated on a white horse trampling the dragon. As a young man St George is depicted beardless and with short brown curly hair. Dressed in full armour, he wears a bright red mantle, which flutters behind. With his raised right hand the saint plunges a spear into the mouth of the dragon. In the upper right corner is a dark blue segment of heaven.

The interesting floral decorative pattern on the border of the icon which is incised in the levkas ground, is a typical feature of 16th century icons from the Vologda area.

Panagia with Mother of God of the Sign and Three Church Hierarchs T-10

Origin
: Russia
Period
: 16th century
Size
: 6.5 x 4.7 cm (excl. hinge)

The medallion, one side of a Panagia, depicts the Mother of God Znamenie and the Three Church Hierachs, who are represented full length. Both images are finely carved in walrus bone and set into a silver gilt engraved holder. Panagia were worn by bishops and patriarchs. In the 16th century several monasteries in Russia had special workshops where pectoral icons, crosses and Panagias were produced for the clergy and for sale to visiting pilgrims.

Six Saints T-11

Origin
: Russia
Period
: 16th century (vrezka)
Size
: 29 x 32 cm

The icon shows six chosen saints standing against a worn gold background. They are all represented full length, facing the viewer. Although the name inscriptions are not preserved, most saints can be identified by their physionomy and dress. The prophet Elijah is depicted to the far left with next to him the evangelist St John, followed by a bishop saint, possibly St Clement of Rome. All these three saints make a sign of blessing with their right hand. To the right side three martyrs are represented, holding a martyr cross with their right hand: the two Russian martyr saints Boris and Gleb, both dressed as Russian princes, and a young, beardless martyr saint, who might be identified as St George or St Dmitry.

Christ ‘the Fiery Eye’ T-12

Origin
: Russia, Moscow
Period
: first half 17th century (vrezka)
Size
: 37.5 x 31 cm

This highly expressive portrait icon of Christ is a typical Russian iconographic model, known as ‘the fiery eye’. The type, which only shows the head and shoulders of Christ, undoubtedly derives from larger portraits of the Pantocrator found in dome and apse mosaics and frescos. All Russian icons of this type refer to the 13th-century portrait icon of Christ, now in the Annunciation Cathedral in the Moscow Kremlin.

The stern face of Christ on this monumental icon, which originally comes from the Kremlin’s Dormition Cathedral, has inspired the image’s popular name of Jaroe Oko (fiery eye), although this is not inscribed on the icon itself. This powerful and expressive type of portrait icon of Christ became very popular in the second half of the 16th and the first half of the 17th century.

Archangel Gabriel T-13

Origin
: Northern Russia / Karelia
Period
: late 16th century
Size
: 100 x 45 cm

The Archangel Gabriel is painted against a green background, holding a staff in his left hand and a transparent sphere or diskos with a monogram of Christ in his right hand. He wears a bright orange tunic and a blue mantle. His wings and staff allude to his function as a messenger of God. Divine wind moves the ribbon in Gabriel’s hair as he receives God’s messages.

The icon comes from the Deisis tier of an iconostasis of a Russian orthodox church. The Deisis tier is the most important row in the iconostasis. In the centre of such a tier is an icon of Christ judging mankind, flanked right and left by saints and angels praying with bowed head. The Archangel Gabriel is always placed to the right of the central Christ figure in the Deisis, next to St John the Forerunner.

Birth of the Virgin T-14

Origin
: Russia, Volga-region
Period
: mid-17th century
Size
: 68 x 50 cm

On the icon a homely scene unfolds against an architectural background. To the left Anna, the mother of the Virgin Mary is lying on a bed, supported by pillows. She is like an empress, surrounded by her servants. Behind the bed, two women are depicted, one presenting food and the other one holding a ripidion (ceremonial fan). In the foreground, to the right, the scene of The Virgin Mary’s first bath is shown. The newborn child sits on the lap of the midwife, who is represented with bare arms. With her hand the midwife feels the temperature of the water in the wash basin in front of her. A female servant pours water from a pitcher. Above, Anna and Joachim are sitting together, while cherishing their newborn child.

The Birth of the Virgin is one of the great feasts of the Orthodox Church, celebrated on September 8. The depiction of the Birth of the Virgin is derived entirely from apocryphal sources (the Proto-evangelium of James and the Pseudo-evangelium of Matthew). The icon comes from a feastday row of an iconostasis in a Russian orthodox church.

Smolenskaya Mother of God T-15

Origin
: Central-Russia
Period
: first half 17th century
Size
: 31 x 26 cm

The Mother of God is depicted from her waist up, slightly turning towards Christ. She wears a blue tunic and a dark brown maphorion (mantle). Her mantle is decorated with fine gold highlights, accentuating the fall of the folds. Holding Christ on her left arm, the Mother of God is pointing at Him as the source of salvation for mankind. Christ is depicted facing the viewer, holding a closed scroll, fastened with black cords, and making a sign of blessing with his right hand. His undergarment is a blue tunic. His orange-ochre robe has a refined pattern of gold highlights.

This iconographic type, known in Russia as the Mother of God Smolenskaya, is a variant of the Byzantine Hodegetria. A copy of the Byzantine prototype was painted shortly after 1456 for the Annunciation cathedral in the Moscow Kremlin and was glorified with the name ‘Smolenskaya’. It became particularly venerated after 1514 when Smolensk was incorporated into the Russian state. From the 15th–16th centuries onwards it became one of the most revered images of the Virgin in Russia.

St John, Angel of the Desert T-16

Origin
: Russia, Moscow
Period
: first half 17th century
Size
: 31.5 x 27.3 cm

Representations of St John the Forerunner as an angel derive from the passage from Isaiah, quoted at the beginning of the Gospel of Saint Mark: ‘Behold, I send my messenger (Greek: angelos) before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee’. Orthodox Christians refer to him as the ‘Angel of the Desert’.

St John is depicted full-length with wings outspread. He is standing on a rocky mountain. Typical for a hermit, he is wearing a dark-green hair tunic beneath a dark blue mantle. Characteristic features are his long hair and beard falling into locks. With his right hand St John is pointing towards the chalice which he is holding in his left hand. The chalice contains his own decapitated head. With the same hand he is holding an open scroll with a text in church slavonic.

The earliest representation of the winged Saint John in Byzantine art, painted in 1295, is to be found in the Saint Achilles Church in Arilye in Serbia. In Russian art the image first appears around 1500, in the Cathedral of the Nativity of the Virgin at the Ferapontov Monastery. 

Anastasis T-17

Origin
: Russia, Volga-region, probably Kostroma
Period
: second half 17th century
Size
: 73.5 x 53 cm

The different scenes of this finely painted Anastasis icon are not clearly delineated but flow seamlessly into one another. The Slavonic texts carefully written in black on the ochre coloured border explain the scenes. Christ is depicted twice in the centre of the icon: rising from the grave and descending into hell. The actual moment of the Resurrection, when Christ rises from the grave, is represented in the upper part of the icon. Christ is making a sign of blessing with his right hand and is holding a cross with his other hand. To the right, the Roman soldiers are lying asleep. Below, Christ is depicted descending with a fluttering mantle into hell from a rocky landscape. He is crushing the gates of hell with both feet. Behind these gates lies a dark pit. With his left hand He raises Adam from the grave and with his other hand He makes a sign of blessing. Adam rises up, the first mortal to be thus released from Hades. To the right, Eve is kneeling while turning towards the Saviour. Her hands, raised in prayer, are veiled as a sign of respect. In the lower left corner, angels are beating devils. In the upper right corner of the icon, the Repentant Thief is received into walled Paradise by the two prophets Enoch and Elijah, who according to tradition did not die but sailed to heaven while still alive. It is this same Repentant Thief who welcomes the ‘chorus of prophets and patriarchs’ to the gateway of Paradise guarded by a red cherub.  Lower right, Christ is calling the apostles by Lake Galilee. In the upper left corner, the Crucifixion is depicted. In the upper part of the composition three more scenes are represented: the Myrrh-bearing Women at the empty grave, with the angel who explains that Christ is risen, the Ascension of Christ and the Supper at Emmaus. In the centre of the upper border the New Testament Trinity is shown.

Triptych with the Guardian Angel T-18

Origin
: Russia, Volga-region
Period
: late 17th century (dated 1688), signed painter Nester
Size
: 43.7 x 65.5 cm (open)

The icon in the centre of the triptych, representing the Guardian Angel and his Good Deeds, could be taken out of the casket for worship on special occasions. The guardian angel is depicted holding the Arma Christi with one hand and a large sword in his other hand. He turns to the left, the side where life is lived in imitation of Christ. At the bottom left, the guardian angel appears at the table of a pious man. The man is sitting at the table together with his wife and his son, who is reading the Bible. A servant brings in a large cup. In this house moderation and the bible prevail. In the scene above, the pious man is gasping out his last. He lies on his deathbed, his hands clasped, and surrounded by his wife and children. The guardian angel takes care of his soul, which emerges from his mouth like a small, white spirit. At the top left of the icon, the angel, the man’s soul in his hands, floats on a cloud up to heaven.
 
To the right side of the angel, the opposite of a pious man is shown. This man lives in opulence. He is dressed in costly clothes and sits under a luxurious canopy at a table, in the company of his buddies and a musician. The guardian angel is not present. A big, terrifying devil appears from behind the two drinking man. In the scene above, the man is lying on his deathbed, just like the pious man, but after his sinful life there is no one unfortunately to take care of him, except for an old man, who is reading aloud from the Bible. The guardian angel is present as well, but he is not able anymore to do anything for the lost soul. The only thing that is left, is a scroll with the few good deeds of the man, which is taken by the angel to heaven in the top right corner of the icon. The scroll serves as a final chance for the sinner at the Last Judgment, to obtain forgiveness for his sinful life.
 
On the upper border of the icon, Christ is represented in a segment of heaven. He makes a blessing gesture towards the two angels appearing on his left and right side, the one with a white soul and the other one with a scroll.
 
The Slavonic text on the lower border of the icon reads:
In the year 1688 (7196) on 16 February this icon was painted by the icon painter Nester'
 
The casket with the two wings of the triptych possibly is of slightly later date. The left panel of the triptych represents: the Angel Gabriel of the Annunciation, the Exaltation of the Cross and the saints Makari of Kaliazin, Savvati, Nikon and Sergei of Radonezh. The right panel of the triptych represents: the Mother of God of the Annunciation, the Pokrov of the Mother of God and the saints Aleksandr Svirski, Makari, Boris and Gleb.
 
At the top of the middle part of the triptych, the New Testament Trinity is depicted, showing God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit (represented as a dove), with in the middle the celestial sphere. They are enthroned on fiery red seraphim and are surrounded by a dark band of cherubs.
 
The triptych was most likely used as a travelling icon, intended for private devotion. Large triptychs were made in Russia for rich merchants and the nobility. One could close the triptych for transportation from the summer to the winter residence and vice versa. As a rule, the triptych was not painted on the outside, because the paint could easily be damaged when transporting the icon. Mostly the exterior was covered with dark leather, as is the case with our triptych too.
 
The icon is painted in a characteristic style in deep, warm earth colors. Red, ocher and green dominate the colour palette. The iconography and style of the painting indicate the influence of the cities along the river Volga, of which Yaroslavl and Kostroma are most famous. In the 17th century, these cities became important cultural centres. While in Moscow the high nobility and clergy were the main patrons of the icons painters, in Yaroslavl and Kostroma this role was fulfilled by wealthy merchants too. The Baroque cartouches and the rich architecture on the icon discussed here, clearly point in the direction of the Volga-region. The triptych can be considered a classic example of this style.

Beheading of St John the Forerunner T-19

Origin
: Northern Russia
Period
: 17th century
Size
: 31 x 24 cm

St John the Forerunner is the most important orthodox Christian saint, after the Mother of God. The icon shows the beheading of St John in different scenes which are not clearly delineated but flow seamlessly into one another. In the lower left corner, St John leaves prison, his hands raised in prayer. To the right, the executioner, depicted against a rocky landscape, raises his sword. St John is looking up to a blue segment of heaven in the upper right corner, where the blessing hand of Christ appears. The decapitated head lies in a chalice in the lower right corner. In the upper part of the icon, the executioner hands over the head of St John to Salomé, the daughter of Herodias. To the left Salomé presents the head of St John to her mother Herodias, who had asked for it as a reward for Salomé’s dance. It had been Herodias’ vengeful request, after St John had denunciated King Herod for having left his own wife in order to live with his brother’s wife Herodias.

Cross – Preparation for the Holy Eucharisty T-20

Origin
: Russia
Period
: 18th century
Size
: 29.5 x 29.5 cm

This rare painted Cross depicts the ‘Preparation for the Holy Eucharisty’ in a medallion in the centre, surrounded by decorative cartouches executed in silver, and supported by a large seraph. On top the Mandylion appears. To the left, the Last Supper is depicted, and to the right the Crucifixion scene. Two angels hold attributes of the Passion of Christ.

Mother of God Besednaya T-21

Origin
: Central-Russia
Period
: 19th century
Size
: 32 x 26.5 cm

The icon shows the typical iconography of the Besednaya Mother of God. Against a background with stylised trees, the Mother of God appears before Yuri, who has fallen on his knees. The Virgin sits on a trunk. St Nicholas stands to the right, dressed as a bishop, with both his hands raised in prayer. On top Christ Pantocrator appears in a segment of heaven, making a sign of blessing with both hands.

In 1383, soon after the miraculous appearance of the icon of the Mother of God Tikhvinskaya, a sexton named Yuri was sent to herald to the surrounding villages the day of the consecration of the church dedicated to the appearance of the icon. On his way back, some distance from Tikhvin, Yuri suddenly saw the Mother of God, sitting on a pine trunk and holding a staff in her hand. Before her stood St. Nicholas. The Mother of God ordered Yuri to tell the clergy that a wooden, and not an iron cross should be put on top of her church. Yuri carried out her command. However, the people did not believe him, and began to install the iron cross already prepared for the church. A sudden storm threw the worker holding the iron cross from the roof without causing any harm either to the worker or to the cross.

On the site of the apparition, a church dedicated to St. Nicholas was erected. A cross made from the pine trunk on which the Mother of God had sat was installed on top of that church. In 1515, after several miracles had occurred at the site, a new wooden church was erected by Great Prince Vasily Ioannovitch, dedicated to the Mother of God and St. Nicholas. A monastery also established at this site was called the Besedniy Monastery (Monastery of the Beseda, or ‘Conversation’), in honour of the miraculous appearance of the Mother of God and St. Nicholas and their tender conversation with the sexton Yuri. The Icon depicting this miracle is known as the Mother of God Besednaya.