THE VIRGIN HODIGITRIA AND CHILD

There are many different versions of the icons of the Mother and Child. In Byzantine art it can be traced back to three main models or prototypes. The first is the Virgin of the Sign. This shows the gesture of "Orans", with the mother's hands raised as if in solemn prayer. The Child is placed in the centre, within a large round medallion over the Mother's breast. A proto-version of this can be traced back to an early fourth century wall painting in the catacombs in Rome.

The second prototype is the Virgin of Vladimir, known in Greece as Eleousa (merciful or loving kindness). This icon comes from eleventh century Constantinople and is now in the Tretiakow Gallery in Moskow. The mystical expression in the eyes of the Virgin has a sadness, as if foreseeing the Passion of her Son. The two figures embrace tenderly. This gesture has many variations, including the Virgin of the Passion, or Perpetual Succour.

The third model or prototype is the Virgin Hodigitria which means "the one who shows the way." As the Theotakos, or Mother of God, she points to Christ with her right hand, whilst holding him with her left. The origins of this icon go back to the fifth century. With its solemn majesty, it became the Byzantine icon par excellence in Constantinopole from the ninth century onwards. In this icon the Virgin presents the Divine Child to the world. She is pointing the way to Salvation. The Child holds the scroll or "rotulus" in his left hand, whilst blessing with his right.

The icon by the hand of Janusz Charczuk. Egg tempera on wood, priming on textile, background 23 K gold leaf. 40.0 x 28.5 cm (15.75 x 11.25 in) Virgin Hodigitria, based on a fourteenth century prototype painted by a Greek artist and now in the National Museum in Belgrade.

This Icon was displayed at The Exhibition of Icons by The Group of Toronto Iconographers, one of the events being held in Toronto City Hall Rotunda to contribute to the celebration of 2002 World Youth Day and the visit to Toronto made by Pope John Paul II. Primate of Poland, Cardinal Joseph Glemp, blessed the icon On Wednesday, July 24, 2002.