All the tragedy of a people in the Ukrainian Marian icon of the Pope’s Museums
The Marian icon of the Virgin Hodegetria – the only example of Ukrainian art held in the Vatican Museums – is a sacred image dating from the seventeenth century, that now more than ever cannot fail to evoke the suffering of the Ukrainian people in this dark moment.
Its history is linked to the figure of Saint John Paul II, who received this icon as a gift in Lviv in 2001, during his apostolic journey to Ukraine. Along with the original, which has deteriorated over time, the pontiff also received a copy with an ideal reconstruction of the missing parts. Both were donated in turn by Saint John Paul II to the Congregation for the Eastern Churches, until 2004 when they became part of the Vatican Collections.
This icon, scarred and in some parts devastated, narrates today’s tragedy to us all, and in the face of the Child which is no longer present, there is the face of every Ukrainian child. Of every child who is an innocent victim of the folly of war.