There is a tradition. To tell before New Year to Christmas stories. I have a story too. Listen!
My good friend, Ukrainian priest Vladimir Maglena started an interesting project. He collects images of Jesus Christ, done by different peoples in accordance with their national traditions.
Go to his blog and you will see how to represent Christ to the Japanese, the Koreans and the Indians. It’s really interesting.
I do these surveys it recalled a long history.
It was in the early 90s, in Paris. In the Church bench at the sacré-Ke in Montmartre I saw a copy of the Vladimir icon of the mother of God. I was a bit surprised that this icon is on sale in a Catholic shop. And not being sure that I correctly identified the image, asked the Catholic nuns that were there, that’s the icon.
My question put her in a dead end, the answer she obviously didn’t know. But not wanting to lose face, she solemnly looked at the dark face of the virgin and said to me “African Madonna. You see, her brown skin color, Africans so paint it, in accordance with local traditions.”
At the time this answer amused me, and could I assume that decades later this story will come back to me in a new way.
In 2012 I moved from Russia to Cyprus.
And there, in Cyprus, in the mountains, in Texcom monastery, houses one of the most important Christian shrines — kiczka the icon of the virgin. It is remarkable that according to tradition, this icon — vivo image of the virgin Mary, which was written by the Apostle Luke with live virgin.
But here’s the thing, none of this image can not see. From the early 12th century icon of closed thick blanket, which never is removed. So ordered by the Byzantine Emperor Alexius Comnenus, and since then this ban is reserved the blackness Holy monks of the monastery.
Why the Emperor so ordered? In this respect there are many versions, the most popular of which is the Holiness of icons is so high that an ordinary mortal can see the face of the virgin, not being blind. There is even a legend that in the 18th century the Patriarch of Alexandria Gerasimos II dared to lift the cover and look at the icon, and then went blind.
It is unlikely that this legend was true, because Gerasim II — this is a real historical figure and historical science anything about it blindness is not known. But there was something strange in the life of the Patriarch of Alexandria really happened. After two dozen years on the Patriarchal throne, he suddenly and without explanation resigned from all authority, and retired to mount Athos, where after a month he died. It happened after the Patriarch’s visit to Cyprus. So it is possible that Cyprus really has something happened between the Patriarch and the icon. What could be so saw Gerasim?
Have Kikkou icons have multiple copies. But they are all quite different from each other, and differ in color and composition. This is not surprising. None of these copies were not drawn from nature. All of them were made centuries after the icon was closed and was done according to the description, and in accordance with the canons.
But one copy, which was made in situ in the 11th century, when the icon was still open — still exists. It is stored also in Cyprus, in a monastery Hrisoroyatissa, and — surprise — she too closed towards her met the same precautions as apply to the original. So, as you know, the case may still not in the blinding Holiness, that the icon represents something that the modern believer is better not to know.
However, the icon attracts thousands of pilgrims from all over the world, not only the Orthodox but to all Christian denominations.
It was there, in Chixcom the monastery, I met a group of Coptic pilgrims from Egypt and was surprised to learned that in the world there are people for whom there are no secrets Kikkou virgin.
I learned (and then checked this information), which for nearly a thousand years since the creation of this icon belonged to them, the Copts of Egypt as long as Egypt did not come, the Byzantines and took it.
Why is the face closed? Well it is understandable, explained to me the Egyptian pilgrims, because the icon shows a woman with too dark skin and too much striking features of the Ethiopian race. And we should know — they said, that the virgin was black and came from the people of Amhara.
Just to the 11th century such concepts as “racism,” — said the Copts, did not exist. The attitude of the person was determined primarily on the basis of his religion, and the relation to skin color was about the same as the color of your hair. But in the 11th century, skin color was playing a prominent role, appeared the beginnings of racism, and the Emperor, in order to avoid excesses, ordered the closure of the virgin’s face.
Probably on my face reflected too much irony and doubt. They laughed.
Another icon is, in vivo, have in the Kremlin, in Moscow, is stored. Also the Apostle Luke painted. Our lady of Vlaherna. And it is not closed. Write it down — “Vlaherna”. Look out for her. Will see, all will understand.
I found and saw.
And since then vague doubts torment me. I’m particularly confused by the fact that among the Byzantine icons of the first Millennium, I could not find one where the skin color of the virgin would not be “African tinge.”
The Blachernae Mother Of God. The author is the Apostle Luke