MONDAY
February 19, 2001
volume 12, no. 50

Russia and Rome look at Kazan Mother of God Icon



    ROME (Fides) – A small 30 centimeter high 16th century icon, the Kazan Mother of God, celebrated by many healings and other miracles, is causing a stir in Russia and Rome.

    The icon appeared mysteriously in 1597, in Kazan, the capital of Tatarstan, a republic of the Russian Federation on the middle Volga, where it became famous for miracles obtained through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary. In 1904 the icon was stolen from Kazan cathedral, shipped abroad by a certain Chaikin and is preserved today in the Papal apartments among several revered icons. Kazan authorities would like to retrieve the city’s Madonna and the Pope has no objection.

    The Kazan authorities are determined. On October 2000 26, the Mayor of Kazan, Kamil Ishkakov, and members of the town council, visited the Vatican and met the Pope. Ljudmila Andreeva, a member of the delegation, said Pope John Paul II assured he would be only too happy for Kazan to have again its precious icon. But it was clear that the exchange could only take place between Church leaders since it is religious treasure and religion is a question of piety not politics. The sacred Orthodox Madonna should undoubtedly return via the hands of the head of the Orthodox Church, Patriarch Alexis II.

    However, the problem is complicated by another issue. Since the interest shown for the Kazan Madonna, growing doubts over the authenticity of the icon in question have been voiced by Russian art-history specialists. On January 30, Natalia Chugreeva, of the Andrei Rublev Museum, declared that from the information she had obtained from the Vatican regarding its dimensions, photographs and x-ray examinations, the icon is a copy produced in the first half or middle of the eighteenth century.

    By way of reply Ljudmila Andreeva, who is a member of the city-council, stated on behalf of the Kazan authorities: "We know about this interpretation, but the detailed verifications we have collected in the past two years confirm the authenticity of the icon". A Kazan delegation is to meet Natalia Chugreeva who affirms that the icon is a copy, to listen to her conclusions. However Ms Andreeva is convinced of the importance of the religious artistic treasure for her city. "The most important thing for us is that the icon returns to Kazan – she says – it can do much to revive the religious sentiment of our people."


February 19, 2001
volume 12, no. 50
News from ROME
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