First Tuesday in March

Madonna di Costantinopoli, Bari, Apulia, Italy

The tradition in Bari is that St. Luke painted the icon of the Virgin Hodegetria, She Who Shows the Way, which Empress Eudocia brought to Constantinople in 438. Her sister-in-law Pulcheria built a sanctuary for it near the Great Palace, where it worked many miracles. Then, starting in 726, Emperor Leo III banned the use of images in churches and worship. Finding the honor accorded the Hodegetria particularly idolatrous, he ordered it burned. But two monks stowed it away in a vessel bound for Italy. When the ship encountered a terrifying storm, a handsome angel descended, calmed the crew, took the helm, and steered into the port of Bari. It was the first Tuesday in March, 731. The bishop of Bari greeted the Madonna and gave her refuge in the Cathedral.   

Other traditions hold that the original Hodegetria icon was destroyed during the Turkish conquest of Constantinople in 1453, or that it escaped to other locations (Montevergine, Rome, Smolensk).

Covered with a metal sheath since the 1700s, the icon now venerated in the crypt of Bari's Cathedral has been dated to the 1500s. Radiography at the Bari Clinic showed that the Virgin's gesturing hand had been raised from her lap to her breast. Both positions are now visible. 

The Madonna of Constantinople is the patron saint of Bari, celebrated for a week beginning on the first Tuesday in March.

(Information from "La Madonna Odegitria," Diocesi di Bari-Bitonto, www.webdiocesi.chiesacattolica.it; and other sources. Picture from "Puglia," Viaggi di gruppo, www.rositour.it/Italia/Puglia/Puglia1/Puglia1.htm.)

Also commemorated this date:

bulletMadonna di Costantinopoli, Binetto, Bari, Apulia, Italy
bulletMadonna di Costantinopoli, Bitritto, Bari, Apulia, Italy
bulletMadonna Odegitria, Noicąttaro, Bari, Apulia, Italy
 

Where We Walked ~~~ Mary Ann Daly