Tsar Nicholas, Nazis, Louis Sullivan, and a Little Chicago Church: The Crazy Story of St. Luke’s Portrait of the Virgin Mary

William O'Connor

Source: Daily Beast

May 21, 2018


The Tikhvin Icon has traveled through history and across the globe on an arduous journey few pieces of art can claim to match.

A portrait of the Virgin Mother said to be painted by the divine hand of St. Luke himself, the icon is one of the world’s most precious religious objects. According to legend, over the centuries it eluded capture by the Turks, the Swedes, the Bolsheviks, and the Nazis. For the last half of the 20th century, it has been sheltered in the unassuming rectory of a charming Russian Revival church in Chicago designed by Louis Sullivan, the first distinctly American architect, the father of the skyscraper, and Frank Lloyd Wright’s mentor.

In the 1940s, after leaving its home in the Tikhvin Monastery near St. Petersburg and escaping both the Nazis and the Bolsheviks, the icon was brought to Chicago by its safekeeper, Bishop John Garklavs. There it sat in this little church designed by a world-famous architect, largely unnoticed by the world at large, for decades. In 2004 when Russia was deemed safe again, the sacred object was returned to its home in the Tikhvin Monastery.

...Read the rest at Daily Beast.

William O'Connor


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