Yes. You read the title correctly. Leo Tolstoy would have been horrified. But probably not surprised.
In previous postings, we have seen that in Russia, icons were sometimes used for nationalistic, military and political purposes. Now that icon painting is having a revival in Russia, there is also a strong trend toward the creation of such new icons.
Here, for example, is a recent icon some may find visually surprising:
He certainly does not look like the conventional image of a saint, does he, with his military uniform, medals, and telescope and sword in hand.
His icons, however, seem to be quite popular in the modern Russian icon market.
Who is he? Well, it all goes back to the year 2001, when Feodor Feodorovich Ushakov (Фёдор Фёдорович Ушаков — 1745-1817) was declared a “local saint” of Orthodoxy in Saransk Diocese in the Russian Republic of Mordovia; and in 2004 he was declared a saint to be venerated by the entire Russian Orthodox Church. Then, in 2005, Patriarch Alexei II, as head of the Russian Orthodox Church, named this late 18th-early 19th century admiral of the Russian Imperial Navy patron saint of nuclear armed, strategic long-distance bombers. He is also patron saint of the Russian Navy.
His title inscriptions are usually some shorter or longer version of:
СВЯТЫЙ ПРАВЕДНЫЙ ФЕОДОР УШАКОВ
АДМИРАЛЬ ФЛОТА РОССIИСКАГО
SVYATUIY PRAVEDNUIY FEODOR USHAKOV
ADMIRAL’ FLOTA ROSSIYSKAGO
“HOLY RIGHTEOUS FEODOR/THEODORE USHAKOV
ADMIRAL OF THE RUSSIAN FLEET.”
Some of his icons show him with powdered wig, and some show him — rather incongruously — in byzantine garb. Other icons depict him with scenes from his military life, such as battleships firing cannon and ships aflame. I will not go into the lengthy description of his life and battles (there is much information elsewhere online), but will note simply that among his acts was the construction of the Russian naval base in Sebastopol/Sevastopol in the late 18th century, after the annexation of Crimea by Tsarist Russia — something we still see the effects of today. Ushakov was made commander of that port.
It is worth knowing, however, that in many of his icons, he holds a scroll reading:
Не отчаивайтесь! Сии грозные бури обратятся к славе России
“Do not despair! These terrible storms will turn to the glory of Russia.”
The recent icon shown on this page appears to have been designed after a painting by Pyotr Bazhanov (Петр Бажанов), 1851-1913: