Virgin of Vladimir Icon Pendant

Virgin of Vladimir Icon Pendant

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This small metal icon mounted as a pendant depicts a painted image of the Virgin of Vladimir. This representation of the Mary holding the infant Jesus to her cheek dates to the 12th century and has been highly venerated by Russian Orthodox Christians ever since.
The Russian Orthodox faith arrived in North America in the 18th century when Russian traders settled in what is now Alaska. A steady stream of Eastern Europeans many of whom were Orthodox came to America during the 19th century with a large influx leading up to the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917. This political turmoil in Eastern Europe and Russia likely explains how the small icon came to America although the story is not definitively known.
It was donated to the Smithsonian by Julia Asenath Romaine van Schaick. Neither she nor her husband’s family appear to have Russian ancestry. Both Julia and her husband resided in Belgium assisting the Red Cross with war relief beginning in 1917 and it is possible that she acquired the icon while she was in Europe. Her husband was a well-known Universalist minister who hosted Abdu’l-Baha, the leader of the Bahá'í Faith, at his church in Washington, DC in the Fall of 1912. Abdu’l-Baha spoke about the liberty of speech and religion enjoyed by Americans.
This little Virgin of Vladimir pendant represents not only the arrival of the Russian Orthodox faith in America but perhaps through its ownership by the van Schaick’s also represents the generosity of America in offering relief to victims of war and their openness to all religions whether Russian Orthodox, Bahá'í, or Universalist.
Object Name
Date made
c. 1891
place made
overall: 8 cm x 6.5 cm x.5 cm; 3 5/32 in x 2 9/16 in x 3/16 in
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
Mrs. John Van Shaick
Orthodox Eastern Church
Expositions and Fairs
Nijni Novogorod Fair
See more items in
Cultural and Community Life: Religion
Many Voices, One Nation
Many Voices, One Nation
Exhibition Location
National Museum of American History
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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