THE “ROSTOV” ICON OF MARY

Today we will take a very brief look at another of the so-called “Wonder-working” icons of Mary — the Rostovskaya (“Of Rostov”) image.  There is little information about it, but it is easy to recognize.  The “Rostov” of the title is one of two large Russian cities by that name.  This one is the Rostov north of Moscow, in Yaroslavl Oblast (Region).  The other is Rostov on the Don.  The northern city, which is very old, is often distinguished from the other by the title Ростов ВеликийRostov Velikiy — “Rostov the Great”

(Courtesy of The Museum of Russian Icons, Clinton MA)

This type depicts Mary standing on clouds at left.  She holds the Christ Child, who blesses those standing on the right, which vary in number from example to example.  Here there are three, which is standard in many examples.  From left to right they are the Bishops of Rostov Leontiy (Leontius, died 1073), Isaiya (Isaiah, died 1090), and Ignatiy (Ignatius, died 1288).

It is said that Leontiy, who was born in Constantinople, was killed in 1073 at the instigation of sorcerers, which shows that this period was a time of conflict between the indigenous beliefs of the region and the expanding authority of the Orthodox Church. Isaiya was born in Kiev/Kiyev, and became a monk at the famous Monastery of the Caves there (Pecherskaya Lavra). Ignatiy was born in the Rostov area. Tradition says that at his funeral, two pious nuns, as well as other particularly pious people, saw the saint rise out of his coffin and walk up into the air above the church, where he blessed the people and the city; then he descended into the church, where his coffin lay prepared.

Here is another example of the type, which expands the number of saints at right to fifteen:

 

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