The Grand Priory of Lombardy and Venice has a particular veneration for the icon of the Blessed Virgin Nicopeia (“bringer of victory”) exhibited in a chapel of the St. Mark’s Basilica. Both the author and the dating of this image are unknown.
It belonged to the Byzantine emperors who used to solemnly carry it into battle. In 1204, during the Fourth Crusade, the icon would come into the possession of the French who would place it in the Church of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople.
Stolen by the Venetians, the venerated image was kept by them in the Monastery of the Pantocrator. After the conquest of Constantinople by the Byzantines, the icon was transported to Venice (probably in 1261) and placed in St. Mark’s Basilica.
Since 1617 it has been enthroned on the altar that bears her name and is the object of great veneration by virtue of the graces obtained through the intercession of Mary, invoked in Venice with the title of Nicopeia, in
occasion of dangers and calamities to which the Serenissima was subjected in the course of its ancient and recent history.
The day dedicated to her in the calendar of the Venetian Church is March 25th, the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord and the traditional birth day of Venice. By decree issued on 19 May 1990 by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, the Holy See proclaimed Nicopeia patroness of the Grand Priory of Lombardy and Venice of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta.
On June 24, 2018 an icon with his effigy was blessed by Patriarch Francesco Moraglia and placed in the presbytery of the Prioral Church in cornu epistolæ.