Today in Catholic History – The Transfer of the Holy Image of Edessa

On 16 August 944, the miraculous “Image of Christ not made by human hands” also known as the Holy Image of Edessa and the Holy Mandylion was transferred to the city of Constantinople.

The Holy Image is a square of cloth on which was reportedly an image of the face of Christ. It is often called the first icon.

According to Christian legend, King Agbar of Edessa had written Jesus asking him to come to his land to cure him of an illness. Jesus did not go to Edessa but sent him a letter promising that one of his disciples would come and also sent King Agbar the cloth on which Jesus had imprinted and image of his face.

In 944, the forces of the Byzantine Empire lay siege to the city of Edessa, at that time under the control of the Muslims. They Muslims exchanged the Holy Image for 200 Muslim captives and 12,000 pieces of silver. Emperor Romanus I ordered that the Image be brought to Constantinople and it was placed in the Tharossa Church of the Holy Mother of God on the 16th of August.

The Holy Image was later taken from Constantinople during the Fourth Crusade and brought to Paris during the reign of Louis IX. It disappeared during the French Revolution.

More on the Holy Image


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