The history of the icon paintings tells the story of the Russian people and their search for and adoption of religion. The story begins long ago under the reign of Vladimir, Prince of Kiev, A.D. 988. He sent his emissaries to various countries to learn about their religions. Vladimir felt that Russia would become a unified nation if its people practiced one central religion. One of his emissaries traveled to Constantinople and returned to Vladimir to report that the religion of the Byzantine Empire was inspiring. As a result, the prince chose the Byzantine faith of Orthodox Christianity as the faith to bring his country of turmoil into harmony.
When the decision was made, Vladimir invited many priests, architects, and icon painters to Russia. In addition, he requested that many icons be brought into Russia from the Byzantine Empire. In this way, his quest for a national religion would be supported by the religious and arts communities. Many of these people who came to Russia were from Constantinople and of Greek origin. They taught the Russians how to copy some of the icons with accuracy and reverence.