17th February : Our Lady Of Constantinople

Our Lady Of Constantinople

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Several of the Byzantine icons in southern Italy and Sicily are venerated under the title Our Lady of Constantinople.  The most celebrated, at Hodegretria, is in the cathedral at Bari.  It was crowned in 1772.  Another such icon is at Monte Vergine and there is one in the church of St. Matthias at Trier in Germany.

Monte Vergine is a very famous Benedictine sanctuary in the Campanian region of Italy; its religious history goes back to pre-Christian times, when there was a temple of Cybele there.  A chapel of the Blessed Virgin was built in the seventh century, and in 1119 St. William of Vercelli founded the monastery that still exists, high up on the mountain.  In the church is a large icon of the Mother and Child, “of Constantinople”, said to have been brought to Italy by King Baldwin of Jerusalem, and came into the possession of the monastery in 1310.  The dark figures strike out in a conspicuous manner from the gold background; the present lower part of the picture is a later addition.  There are some 200,000 pilgrims yearly to Monte Vergine, notably Whitsuntide time and September 1st.  In the United States at Seattle, Washington, there is a church dedicated to Monte Vergine, and also one at New Brunswick, New Jersey.

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