In un messaggio inviato alla nostra redazione qualche tempo fa, l’amica Matilde M., di Alessandria, chiedeva notizie in merito a una tipologia iconografica della Madre di Dio piuttosto rara: la Vergine “Ostrobramskaya”, molto difficile da reperire su tavole lignee antiche ma assai cara alla devozione del popolo russo, e in particolare bielorusso, e oggi presente su molte immagini divulgate dal Patriarcato di Mosca. Proprio tramite lo stesso Patriarcato siamo riusciti ad ottenere una breve spiegazione del canone, in lingua inglese, che pubblichiamo di seguito ringraziando i referenti russi del nostro progetto culturale per l’assiduo impegno ad arricchire con contributi originali queste pagine web.


Ostrobramskaya icon of Mother of God – It is considered by many to be one of the most revered and lovely Icon images of Mary. The Mother of God is shown with her hands crossed on her breast. She is crowned and a circle of stars surrounds her head. Approximately in 1363, Grand Duke Olgerd Gediminovich (Algirdas, son of Gediminas) of Lithuania captured the town of Chersoneses (Korsun). Among the spoils taken by the conqueror was an icon of the Mother of God, which the Grand Duke presented to his wife, Luliania. The Grand Duchess installed the holy image in a newly built Monastery of the Holy Trinity. In the late 15th century, a stone wall was built round the city of Vilna (Vilnius) with the main gate at the “Russian” end of the city, also known as the “Ostry” (Sharp) end. A chapel was built over the gate and the icon was placed into that chapel. In the course of time, Its former name, the Korsun Icon of the Mother of God, began to be forgotten and the holy image gradually came to be known as the “Ostrobramskaya” (from the name “Ostry” and “brama,” meaning “gate” in Polish).

L'icona della Madre di Dio "Ostrobramskaya" venerata a Vilnius, in Lituania
L’icona della Madre di Dio “Ostrobramskaya” venerata a Vilnius, in Lituania

Our Lady of gate dawn is the prominent painting of the Blessed Virgin Mary venerated by the faithful in the Chapel of the Gate of Dawn in Vilnius, Lithuania. The Renaissance painting, completed possibly in the first half of the 17th century, is an unusual portrayal of Madonna as she is depicted without infant Jesus. The artwork soon became known as miraculous and inspired a following. A dedicated chapel was built in 1671 by the Discalced Carmelites. At the same time, possibly borrowing from the Eastern Orthodox tradition, the painting was covered in expensive and elaborate silver and gold clothes leaving only the face and hands visible. In the following centuries, the following grew stronger and Our Lady became an important part of religious life in Vilnius. The following inspired many copies in Lithuania, Poland, and diaspora communities worldwide. The chapel was visited by Pope John Paul II in 1993. It is a major site of pilgrimage in Vilnius and attracts many visitors, especially from Poland. In the early 17th century, the icon passed into the hands of the Unites and, later on, the Roman Catholic Carmelite monks. The iconography of this icon reminds one of Roman-Catholic icons of the Mother of God. It is not unlikely that at one time it was part of an iconostasis or Holy Doors (a component of a composition depicting the Annunciation of the Most Holy Virgin). Feast days: December 26/January 8 and April 14/27.