Blachernae Icon of the Mother of God "Hodegetria"
This is a Greek icon, which, according to a legend, was painted by the Apostle St.Luke. During the Byzantine Iconoclastic Controversy it was hidden in the wall of the Church of Christ Pantocrator in Constantinople. In 1654, it was brought to Moscow and presented to Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich by envoys of the Patriarch of Constantinople. Patriarch Nikon of Moscow and All Russia solemnly met the icon at the Lobnoye Mesto (dais in Red Square, its name literally meaning "place that can be seen from all round" in Old Russian). The parchment sent along with the icon stated that it had been a patronal icon of the Byzantine emperors. Legend has it that one day the Most Holy Theotokos, having appeared to two blind men, led them to the Church of her Blachernae Icon and there, before Her holy image, they recovered their sight. This gave rise to the icon's second name, "Hodegetria." The icon that arrived in Russia was installed in the Cathedral of the Dormition in the Moscow Kremlin. Together with the original icon its copy was brought to Moscow. Subsequently that copy became the property of the Stroganovs, the famous antiquity collectors, and was kept at the village of Vlakhemskoye, their estate in the environs of St. Petersburg. Feast day: July 7/20.