Panagia Blachernitissa

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The 'Panagia Blachernae (Gr. Παναγία η Βλαχερνίτισσα, Turkish: Meryem Ana Kilisesi) [1] is a 7th century Byzantine Hodegetria type icon from Constantinople preserved in the imperial palace of Blachernae. 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. [2][3] This icon were defaced during the 1955 Riots in Istanbul. A rare copy of the Blachernitissa icon is also located in Russia at the Tretyakov Gallery.

Origins of the name

There are two geographical places named "Blachernae" and "Vlachernae", respectivaly. The first, and recognised as the origins of the Blachernae icon and church tradition, is a district of Istanbul in Turkey and is spelt with a B. The second area, is a municipality in the prefecture of Arta, Greece; it is not so well known and is spelt with a V. The correct spelling for the icon and the Church should therefore begin with a "B".

There are some opinions about the origins of the name 'Blachernae of Istanbul, Turkey. The Romanian philologist Ilie Gherghel, wrote a study about Blachernae and concluded that it possibly derived from the name of a Vlach (sometimes written as Blach or Blasi), who came to Constantinople from the lower Danube.[4] Gherghel compared data from old historians like Genesios and from the Greek lexicon Suidas and mentioned the existence of a small colony of Vlachs in the area of today Blachernae. Similar opinions were sustained by Lisseanu[5]

Another opinion is that the origin of the name is derived from a type of fish pronounced in Greek as Palamyda. This type of fish would be fished from the Bosphorus river. In Latin, the same type of fish is pronounced Lakernai and this anecdote says that the dialect of the region pronounced Lakernai as Blachernai[6]




  1. Also known as Blachernitissa or Vlachernae, or Vlahernon
  2. Blachernitissa at Wikipedia
  3. The Eastern Orthodox Church tradition is that there is only one other icon of this type— the icon of the Archangel Michael of Mantamados.
  4. Gherghel, Ilie (1920). (Romanian) Cateva consideratiuni la cuprinsul notiunii cuvantului "Vlach". Bucuresti: Convorbiri Literare
  5. G. Popa Lisseanu, Continuitatea românilor în Dacia, Editura Vestala, Bucuresti, 2014, p.78
  6. This opinion was supported by Skarlatos Byzantios who refers to this in Volume I of the Constantinople Theofilakton of 1351.

See also


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