06/07/2023, 09.18
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The war of icons from Moscow to the Donbass

by Vladimir Rozanskij

The Russian government has earmarked 60 million roubles to produce copies of reproductions of Christ, the Virgin Mary and saints for the cities located between Donetsk and Mariupol, the strategic control points of the area that flows into the Sea of Azov.  The Rublev Museum's exhibition - which has already been staged in many Russian cities over the past years - now becomes the 'frontline exhibition'.

Moscow (AsiaNews) - Not only the most venerated of all, Rublev's icon of the Trinity, now towers in the middle of Moscow's Holy Saviour Cathedral, but an entire army of sacred images has been enlisted to face the Ukrainians' counterattack on Holy Russia.

The Russian government has allocated 60 million roubles (just under 1 million euros) to produce copies of reproductions of Christ, the Virgin Mary and saints, commissioned from the museum dedicated to Rublev himself, one of the most important in the country.

The project is called 'Faces of the Russian Icon', and is destined for the cities located between Donetsk and Mariupol, the strategic control points of the area that flows into the Sea of Azov, the access route to the Crimea, where Ukrainian offensives are feared.

The iconographic copies must be made "in full concordance with the original techniques, including materials", and the priority images are those of the "Saviour not made by human hands" (Spas Nerukotvornyj), the "Mother of God Jaroslavskaya", a synthetic version of the 'Vladimirskaya' and the 'Kazanskaya', and the triumphant image of the 'Resurrection of Christ', which shatters the gates of Hades and frees humanity enslaved by the devil, taking Adam and Eve by the hand, the best symbol of Russia's war for the de-Satanisation of the whole world.

Putin had already distributed several icons on his last propaganda visit to the Donbass, handing them out to frontline soldiers. From both sides come icons painted on armoured bodies, a sacred defence against enemy artillery, one of which was given by Zelenskyj to Pope Francis on his recent visit to Rome.

The Rublev Museum exhibition had already been set up in many Russian cities in the past years, displaying faithful copies, and now becomes the 'frontline exhibition of the front line'.

The Rublev Museum is located in the centre of Moscow, in the buildings of the Andronikov Monastery, where the monk Andrei spent his formative years under the guidance of St. Sergius of Radonezh, who then moved to the monastery outside Moscow dedicated to the Holy Trinity.

There is buried the saint who inspired the rebirth of Russia, in whose honour his disciple composed the famous icon of the Three Pilgrims visiting Abraham. It was Stalin who had the museum opened in 1947, and for a long time it remained in the hands of the state, despite Patriarch Kirill's pressing demands for its return to the Church.

Now Kirill has won his war with the past, returning the Church to its historic role as the spiritual leader of the state and its campaigns or 'special operations' against all internal and external enemies.

The Rublev Museum is under his control, which means that all the country's icon collections are now at the disposal of the Patriarchate, as well as the Ministry of Defence, the institution closest to the Orthodox Church among all state bodies.

Rublev's Trinity was transported with great pomp and circumstance on special cars with an invariable interior layout, along the short stretch from the museum to the cathedral, where it should remain for a couple of weeks before returning to the restoration workshop, but Kirill is confident that he will be able to keep it for at least a year, actually forever.

Those responsible for the current arrangement of the icon, in fact, assure that there have been no problems in transporting it, and in any case "any detail will be rearranged, repainted or reconstructed with the same techniques as the icon's iconographer Andrej himself".

The care of the icon becomes a symbol of the restoration of the entire image of Russia: it has been placed in a special capsule that maintains the necessary humidity level, and the entire apse is subjected to a special climatic and organisational regime, subjecting all those who come to admire it and pray for the salvation of the country and their souls to meticulous controls, with staggered entrances and time limits for devotion.

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