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The Virgin Hodegetria is one of the most ancient and most venerated images of the Mother of God. She holds Christ on her left arm and, by pointing to him with her right hand, directs our attention to him as the source of salvation for humankind. Tradition holds that it was originally painted by Saint Luke and brought from the Holy Land to Constantinople in the fifth century by Eudocia wife of the emperor Thoedosius II. It was housed in the Hodegon Monastery and famously carried in procession on Tuesdays to the Cathedral of Hagia Sophia.
The present whereabouts of the two wings of the triptych of which this was the centre is unknown. The unusual elongation of the face has few counterparts but an icon in Bulgaria with similar features dated 1643 is a close parallel1 (Fig. 1)