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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Church Regains Precious Icon

The Russian Orthodox Church on Wednesday regained custody for a few hours of one of the country's most precious icons for the first time in 76 years. The icon, known as Vladimir Mother of God, is a 12th-century Byzantine masterpiece believed to work miracles and regarded as the patron of Moscow. It was delivered from the Tretyakov arts gallery to the Kremlin's Uspensky Cathedral for a special service on the holy day dedicated to the icon. Transfer of the icon, which has been the subject of a fight between the church and the gallery, was carried out by a specially equipped van under strict security control to protect the 800-year-old work of art. Last November, President Boris Yeltsin ruled that the icon, which was seized by the government in 1918 after the Bolshevik Revolution, should remain government property but could be returned to the church for religious use once a safe method of transporting and displaying it was developed. Art specialists have been concerned that the movement could damage the fragile icon. The icon remained at the cathedral for only 3 1/2 hours while a special service was conducted by the Patriarch of Russia Alexy II. The icon was sealed in a hermetic glass case to prevent any damage. The Moscow Kremlin Museums association also handed over on Friday the holy relics of several most revered Russian saints to a convent. The relics, including those of the 14th-century spiritual leader and educator Sergy Radonezhsky, were delivered to Alexy II in a specially crafted precious relic box by Irina Rodimtseva, director of the Kremlin Museums. The patriarch then gave the relics to the Svyato-Pokrov convent of Khotkovo, a town near Sergiyev Posad (formerly Zagorsk) some 70 kilometers north of Moscow. According to historical records, the icon of Vladimir Mother of God was carried by Saint Sergy in Donskoi's march against the Mongols.