A Sacred Image from Belarus: The Icon of the Mother of God of Kupyatich

The Kupyatich Icon of the Mother of God appeared in the 1180s nearby the village of Kupyatich in the Minsk area. The icon was found in the forest on a tree by the peasant maiden Anna, a cattle herder. The image – in the form of a cross – shone with an unusual light. On the spot of the miraculous appearance of the icon, peasants built a church in the name of the Mother of God, and placed the discovered icon within it.

The Kupyatich Icon is in the form of a small copper cross. The Mother of God is shown standing, holding the infant-Christ in her arms. The right and left arms of the cross have medallions containing the busts of, now, unknown Saints, whilst at the top is a medallion containing an image of what is probably the Ancient of Days.
 
On the “reverse” side is a scene of the Crucifixion. Given the shape of the Icon, it is almost certain that the icon was originally a Crucifix, and that the Mother of God was depicted on the reverse side. In 12th-century Russia, there were countless crucifixes which depicted the Mother of God on the reverse side. Some surviving examples are shown here (site in Russian). Upon such Crosses, the beginning (the Mother of God) and fulfillment (the Crucifixion) of Christ’s Incarnation are shown together.
 
Nevertheless, in the case of the Kupyatich Cross Icon, its miraculous discovery means this specific 12th-century crucifix is now honoured as an Icon of the Mother of God. It has even inspired later, regular-shaped, Icons of the Mother of God standing before a cross, described as Kupyatich Icons.
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