Largest Collection of Metal Icons

viola vonfi 

A collection of 370 mostly copper alloy icons, some with colored enamel, has been on permanent exhibit at the Cave Church in Budapest since April of 2014.  The icons stem from the private collection of art historian Professor Ruzsa György, who spent decades seeking items for his collection, among the first in Hungary to do so.

Most of these icons are small, so they could be worn and taken everywhere by the faithful.  Some consist of three or four panels that may be folded.  Monks wore them, and so did women and small children.   They were a part of everyday life, as mentioned by Russian writers such as Pushkin and Dostoyevsky. Often they were nailed to the grave marker of a deceased person.

Most commonly depicted on the exhibit pieces are Christ, Mary as Mother of God (Theotokos), and Saints, particularly St. Nicholas.  (A story is told of the time of the Hungarian Freedom Fight of 1956, during which dead Russian soldiers were found wearing images of Kossuth Lajos, because they had thought that they represented St. Nicholas!)

The Metal Icon Museum at Sziklatemplom is the largest such museum in the world.

viola vonfi is our correspondent from Stamford, CT.  She finds it amusing that one of her ancestors was knighted by Wallenstein during the Thirty Years’ War.