14th Century Icon of the Virgin of Hodegetria (She who shows the Way). Around the frame are scenes from the life of Christ. Mary is portrayed from the waist up on a gold ground in the type of Hodegetria. The name Hodegetria comes from the Hodegon Monastery in Constantinople, in which the icon showing the Virgin in this particular stance resided from at least the twelfth century onward.
She holds Jesus Christ in her left arm, bending her head slightly, tenderly, towards him. She wears a red mantle with gold highlights. Christ half reclines in her embrace, his right foot under his left leg, the bare sole upturned. He holds a closed scroll in his left hand and makes a gesture of blessing with his right as it emerges from his himation. Christ’s apprehensive gaze and fearful pose, as he envisions his own future Passion in the Virgin’s sorrowful face, clearly reveal the artist’s ability to express his subjects’ psychology and make this icon one of the most outstanding creations of its time.
Tradition has it that in Constantinople, the Mother of God appeared to two blind people. Taking them by the hand, she guided them to the famous monastery and sanctuary of the Hodegetria where she restored their vision.
Built by Michael III (842-867), the sanctuary was called Church of the Guides because the army chiefs used to pray before the icon, which was named after the sanctuary, before they left for their campaign.
Since that time, the blind and all who suffered eye disorders came to the source nearby the Church to wash their eyes so they would be healed. This legend has made the icon of the Mother of God Hodegetria into a source of grace for those who are looking for God.