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 is most commonly spelt with a 'B', and the second is a municipality in the prefecture of Arta, Greece. It is most commonly spelt with a 'V'.


  • 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. Blachernai is near the northern tip of the walls of Theodosios built by the Empress Pulcheria (ca. 450). The 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 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.[2] There was a specific icon, the Panagia Hagiosoritissa, associated with this shrine.[3] The church was burnt down in 1070 and rebuilt by the year 1077 either by 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 Panagia of the Life Giving Spring, and which still flows in the modern church on the site.[4]

From the time of the Patriarch Timotheos [511-18] there was a procession—the "panhgur j"—which would take place every Friday from Blachernai to the Church of the Chalkoprateia, near Hagia Sophia, at the other end of the city.[5]

  • The Church of Vlacherna, Peloponneso
A majestic 12th century church decorated with beautiful frescoes of St. John the Baptist.
  • The Church of Vlacherna, Pontikonisi (Corfu, Greece)
  • Isle of Dias, village of Kalligata (Kefalonia, Greece)



  1. Blachernitissa at Wikipedia
  2. ODB 3:1929.
  3. ODB 3:2171.
  4. 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.
  5. Janin, Eglises CP, 177.


External links