Panagia Blachernitissa

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The Panagia of Blachernitissa (Gr. Παναγία η Βλαχερνίτισσα), also known as Blachernae, Vlachernae, or Vlahernon, is a 7th century Byzantine icon from Constantinople preserved in the imperial palace of Blachernai. The icon, according to tradition, was not written; rather, it was made from a composition of wax and the ashes of 6th-century martyred Christians.[1] Within the Church, there is only one other icon of this type—see the icon of Archangel Michael of Mantamados. The icon of Blachernitissa is currently located in Russia at the Tretyakov Gallery.

Name ambiguity

It is possible that the Blachernitissa and the Blachernae might not be one and the same icon. There are two places with the name "Blachernae." The first location is in Constantinople, and the second is a village in Greece.


  • The Church of Panagia of Blachernae, Constantinople
The best known and most celebrated shrine of the Holy Virgin in Constantinople is the church of Panagia of Blachernae.
  • The Shrine of Blachernai
Blachernai, near the northern tip of the walls of Theodosios, was the site of major shrine of the Virgin Mary in Constantinople built by the Empress Pulcheria (ca. 450). A circular chapel (the Soros), was built by Emperor Leo I (457-474) next to the church to hold the robe of the Virgin Mary, brought from Palestine in 473. The church was burnt down in 1070. It was rebuilt by 1077 by either Romanos IV Diogenes (1067-71) or Michael VII (1071-87) and then destroyed again in 1434. Next to it was a bathhouse where a spring flowed, and which still flows in the modern church on the site.[2]
From the time of the Patriarch Timotheos [511-18] there was a procession—the "panhgur j"—which took place each Friday from Blachernai to the Church of the Chalkoprateia, near Hagia Sophia, at the other end of the city.[3]
  • The Circular Chapel ("Soros")
The chapel of the Virgin's robe was covered in silver and considered a "reliquary of architectural dimensions." Lay people were not allowed inside but could pray in the main church.[4] There was a specific icon, the Panagia Hagiosoritissa, associated with this shrine.[5]
  • Pontikonisi (Corfu, Greece)
  • Isle of Dias, village of Kalligata (Kefalonia, Greece)



  1. Blachernitissa at Wikipedia
  2. Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium (ODB) 1:293; Janin, Eglises CP, 161-71 and the end map entitled "Byzance Constantinople," ref. D2; George P. Majeska, Russian Travelers to Constantinople in the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries, (Washington, D.C.: 1984), 333-337.
  3. Janin, Eglises CP, 177.
  4. ODB 3:1929.
  5. ODB 3:2171.


External links