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Andrey Bogolubsky the Grand Duke of Vladimir and Suzdal:Vladimir icon, virgin, martyr

Andrey Bogolubsky (1111-1174), the Duke of Vladimir and Suzdal since 1157. The son of Yury Dolgoruky, who was the founder of Moscow. He became famous for transferring the capital of ancient Russia from Kiev to Vladimir. Was killed by boyars in his residence in the village of Bogolyubovo. Duke Andrey was known as Bogolubsky owing to a miraculous incident that happened to him. According to legend, he was the devoted worshipper of the Blessed Virgin. Once he saw a great miracle: the famous Vladimir Icon was in the air in the middle of the church. The miraculous incident happened at the time when the Duke was about to leave Kiev and go to Suzdal, wishing to establish his residence there. Andrey understood this event as the Blessed Virgin's approval of his intention. The Vladimir Icon is one of the most respected icons in Russia. It was the patroness of Russia through the centuries. During the ordeals of war Russian people addressed the Vladimir Icon and almost every time they were heard and defended. According to legend, the saint evangelist Luke painted the icon from life, copying it from the living Blessed Virgin. The icon was painted on a board of the table at which Jesus Christ, the Virgin Mary and St. Joseph had been having dinner. The icon was carried to Russia from Constantinople by an eminent Greek guest and presented to Yuriy Dolgoruky, the founder of Moscow. At first the Vladimir Icon was placed in the nunnery situated in the town of Vyshgorod, situated not far from ancient Kiev. Then it was carried to Vladimir by Andrey Bogolubsky, and at last it was transferred to Moscow by Dmitry Donskoy. The icon is still with Russia. Its coating was renewed in 1514. Now its wellbeing is maintained by the best restorers of the Tretyakov Art Gallery. The sacred object is mounted in a special case where air conditioning and temperature regime keep it in good shape. Every principal religious feast in Russia requires the presence of the icon. Every solemn church service is conducted under the Holy Virgin's caring eyes. The icon has remained in Russia for eight centuries running. On the way to Suzdal, Duke Andrey constantly prayed to the icon and soon a second miraculous incident took place. At about ten kilometers distance from the town of Vladimir the horses suddenly stood still and nothing could make them move forward. The Duke Andrey again understood this event as a sign from on high. He ordered a stone church to be built on that spot and decided to stay in Vladimir. Since that time the sacred place was called "Bogolubovo". Later the village of Bogolubovo became the residence of the Duke Andrey, and Andrey was called Bogolubsky. So, Andrey decided to stay in the town of Vladimir and rule there, choosing it as the new capital of ancient Russia. In Vladimir he built a magnificent cathedral where the Vladimir icon was placed. Andrey Bogolubsky was a kind and wise ruler, but in spite of his Christian virtues, he had many enemies who envied him. In 1174 he was martyred in his tower-chamber by the relatives of his wife Iulita, boyars Kuchkovichi. The crowd of twenty drunken traitors rushed into the Duke's chamber. Andrey wasn't able to defend himself because the steward Anbal had stolen his sword the day before. Even in his old age, Duke Andrey was strong and could parry the blow of the first attacker, throwing him down on the floor. The plotters killed that man on the spot confusing him with Andrey Bogolubsky. Soon the killers understood their mistake. They pierced the forehead of the Duke with a spear and inflicted a multitude of blows. "Why are you trying to kill me? What is my fault? God will take revenge on you for my blood," said a dying Andrey Bogolubsky. The imperishable relics of saint Duke Andrey Bogolubsky and his son Gleb are buried in one of the cathedrals of Vladimir.