Russian President Vladimir Putin has decided to hand over the historic icon of the 15th-century Holy Trinity, on display in a museum, to the Russian Orthodox Church because of the interest of its faithful, the Kremlin spokesman said on Tuesday.
The Church, which Putin’s conservatism embraces as part of his view of Russia’s national identity, is one of the most ardent institutional supporters of Russia’s war in Ukraine.
Its head, Patriarch Kirill, calls on the Russians to support Moscow’s military campaign in Ukraine, while last year he said those killed fighting in Ukraine would be forgiven of their sins.
The icon of the Trinity by Andrei Rublev is one of the holiest and most artistically significant Russian icons believed to have been painted in honor of Saint Sergius of Radonezh at the Sergiev Posad near Moscow. It depicts three angels who visited Abraham in Mamre’s oak tree in the book of Genesis, the first of the Bible.
The image has been portrayed several times in various periods of internal conflict.
In 1929 the authorities of the officially atheistic Communist Soviet Union placed the icon in the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow. During World War II it was moved to a safe location for a while.
In 2022, it was transferred due to religious celebrations back to a monastery in Sergiev Posad: the Lavra of the Holy Trinity of St. Sergius, which is the spiritual center of the Russian Church and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Moscow Patriarchate said in a statement that the icon could stay for a year in the Cathedral of Jesus the Savior in Moscow before returning to Sergeyev Posad.