St. Javelin / Saint Javelin
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St. Javelin or Saint Javelin refers to an image of Madonna Kalashnikov (the Blessed Virgin Mary) holding a javelin missile that became a symbol of Ukrainian resistance during the 2021-2022 Russia-Ukraine conflict. Although the image is an exploited version of a 2012 painting, it was first re-edited and created in early 2018 on the Russian social media site VK where a user replaced the original AK-47 with a javelin missile. The image received an uptick in usage in February 2022 coinciding with the escalation of the conflict and invasion of Ukraine by Russia, effectively becoming a symbol of Ukrainian resistance on social media and resulting in lots of redraws and fan art. St. Javelin was also seen as controversial by some for promoting violence and the war at large.
The origin of St. Javelin comes from a painting by American artist Chris Shaw titled, "Madonna Kalashnikov." It was made in 2012 and first exhibited at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in April 2013. This original painting shows Madonna Kalashnikov holding an AK-47 (shown below, left). Chris Shaw's image was used throughout the 2010s online. For instance, on November 18th, 2016, it was used within a thread on 4chan's /cum/ messageboard.
On January 23rd, 2018, Shaw's painting was re-edited by an anonymous user within the pro-Ukraine VK group Величайшие творения и люди Украинской нации, which translates in English to "The greatest creations and people of the Ukrainian nation." The post was captioned, "Творчество наших уважаемых подписчиков," which translates to, "Creativity of our dear subscribers." Over the course of four years, the post received 25 likes (shown below, right).
On January 24th, 2018, the VK post was screenshotted and reposted to Twitter by user Maks_Chepay_4. Although the aforementioned Twitter user has since been suspended, his tweet received engagement and was reposted to other places like the Russian imageboard Fishki later in 2018 (shown below, left).
On May 28th, 2018, the image was reposted by Twitter user golub who captioned it, "Saint Javelin," earning 18 likes over four years (shown below, right). This tweet is the first known pairing of the image and nickname.
Symbol of Ukrainian Resistance in February 2022
Four years later in February 2022, the conflict between Russia and Ukraine reached peak escalation following Russian President Vladimir Putin ordering his troops to invade Ukraine's eastern front. Starting most notably on February 23rd, 2022, the St. Javelin image started resurfacing en masse on platforms like Reddit and Twitter. For instance, on the 23rd, Twitter user NataliaAntonova posted a tweet that showed a picture of St. Javelin on a table, captioning it, "It’s not a party without St. Javelin #Ukraine," earning over 700 likes in six days (shown below, left). On February 24th, Redditor privatesoup1884 posted a St. Javelin image to /r/NonCredibleDefense, earning roughly 1,900 upvotes over the course of five days (shown below, right).
On February 25th, 2022, St. Javelin was covered by news outlets like Vice and Euro News. Also in late February, a website was created called saintjavelin.com that started selling merchandise with Saint Javelin. The website claimed to be a fundraising effort to support Ukrainian armed forces and the Ukrainian people, however, it is unknown if the money goes to these causes.
Rick Wilson's St. Javelin Tweet
Also on February 25th, 2022, Twitter user TheRickWilson, also known as the Republican political pundit Frederick George "Rick" Wilson, tweeted the image of St. Javelin with the caption, "St. Raytheon of the Javelin, patron saint of slagging Russian armor," earning roughly 6,100 likes over the course of four days (shown below, left). Rick Wilson received lots of backlash on the platform for promoting the image, mostly through the form of quote retweets. For instance, Twitter user TomKhruisehchev captioned his tweet, "This is like half a dozen mortal sins all in one," on February 27th, gaining roughly 2,000 likes in two days (shown below, right).
 Chris Shaw – Madonna Kalashnikov
 VK – St. Javelin
 Fishkin – St. Javelin
 Twitter – @NataliaAntonova
 Reddit – /r/NonCredibleDefense
 Vice – Who is St. Javelin?
 Euro News – St. Javelin
 Twitter – @TheRickWilson
 Twitter – @TomKhruisehchev
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