The Celebration of the Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God was established to commemorate the deliverance of Moscow from an invasion of Tatars led by Khan Makhmet-Girei in 1521. The Tatar hordes approached Moscow, burning and destroying Russian cities and villages, and exterminating their inhabitants.
Great Prince Basil raised an army against the Tatars, while Metropolitan Barlaam and the people of Moscow prayed fervently for deliverance. At this time a certain pious blind nun had a vision. She saw Moscow’s bishop-saints exiting from the Savior gates of the Kremlin, forsaking the city and taking with them the Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God, the holiest object in the city of Moscow. This was God’s chastisement for the sins of its inhabitants.
At the Savior gates the holy hierarchs were met by Saints Sergius of Radonezh (Sept. 25) and Barlaam of Khutyn (Nov. 6), tearfully imploring them not to leave Moscow. All of them offered intense prayer to the Lord for the forgivness of their transgressions and the deliverance of Moscow from its enemies. After this prayer the bishop-saints returned to the Kremlin, and they carried back the holy Vladimir Icon.
St Basil the Blessed (August 2) saw a similar vision. It was revealed to him that Moscow would be saved, through the intercession of the Theotokos and the prayers of the saints. The Tatar Khan also had a vision of the Mother of God with a fearsome host, contending against his forces. The Tatars fled in fear, and the capital of the Russian realm was saved.
The Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God is also commemorated on June 23 and August 26.