Here is another of the many Marian icons:

(Courtesy of Zoetmulder Ikonen:

Now as we have learned, when identifying icons it is important to pay close attention to details.

At first glance, one might think the above image is just another example of the “Vladimir”  icon of Mary, and we would not be entirely wrong, though also not entirely correct in so identifying it, if we left it at that.

One can see a very good reason for a “Vladimir” identification.  The position of the figures and their limbs fits that of the “Vladimir” type, of which the icon below is an example:

(Courtesy of

There is a reason why they look so similar.  The first icon on this page began with a copy of the Vladimir icon.

Still, if we look again, we can see there are differences, specifically in the head-covering of Mary and in the “crown” that surmounts her halo in the first example.  We can tell that even though the original gold leaf on them is now gone.

Those differences mark the icon as a sub-type of the Vladimir icon with its own name — the Volokolamskaya (Волокаламская) — or as it is sometimes even more specifically known, the Vladimirskaya-Volokolamskaya (Владимирская-Волокаламская) icon.

Identification can be a bit tricky though, because sometimes painters only mentioned the first part of the name, as in the following example.

(Courtesy of

In this icon the distinctive head-covering with its “crown” is quite obvious, but nonetheless the painter added only the “Vladimir” title inscription, which is rather misleading, though as already mentioned, not entirely inaccurate.

The Volokolamskaya subtype originated, as we have seen, as a copy of the “Vladimir” icon, and that copy was taken from the city of Zvenigorod to the Uspenskiy Cathedral of the Iosifo-Volotskiy Monastery on March 2, 1572.  There it supposedly worked miracles.

In 1954 the Volokolamskaya icon was placed in the Andrey Rublev Museum of Ancient Russian Culture and Art in Moscow.

Now the Iosifo-Voltskiy Monastery is named for its founder, Iosif Volotskiy/Joseph of Volotsk, also known as Joseph of Volokolamsk.  You may recall Joseph of Volokolamsk as the devilish advocate of the “Possessor” position, which held that there was nothing wrong in monasteries owning vast church lands and wealth, villages, peasants and slaves.  He also asserted that those viewed as heretics (i.e. those with different beliefs than he) should be executed.

Many examples of the Volokolamskaya/”Volokolamsk” icon include two border figures — often the Metropolitans of Moscow Pyotr and Iona (Peter and Jonah), but alternate saints may be found as well.


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