How did the organization gather St. Javelin meme million dollars for Ukraine

Saint Javelin does not decorate the stained-glass windows of any church. Her aura is a shade of yellow closer to that of sunflower and wheat than the golden orb on a traditionally sacred saint. Instead of a baby, she is tenderly cuddling a Javelin missile – an American-made anti-tank missile.

An impersonator of Mary may not be a church-approved saint, but in just a few months, she has developed a following with a dedication that rivals any high holiday devotee. Even more impressively, it raised over $1 million for the Ukrainian resistance against the Russian invasion.

This work is the brainchild of Christian Boris, a former Canadian-based journalist who has spent years covering the conflict in Ukraine and beyond. Part of the profits are used to support Ukraine. Borys helped create the image as it is now known – an image that is now on countless notebooks, T-shirts, flags, murals, and even tattoos around the world. His growing team has expanded their list of saints with arms, selling labels, accessories, and branded apparel primarily online. On the company’s website, he summarized the mission in one sentence: “We are working to rebuild Ukraine.”

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He’s not an artist, but a specific type of storyteller eager to draw people into an issue by getting their attention with something silly, funny, or shocking. The campaign was so effective that it earned Boris a place Russia’s official blacklist.

“It just shows the importance of what you can do with something that’s actually so absurd,” Boris said in a July phone interview. “And then the Russians got so upset that they banned us.”

The money raised by Saint Javelin’s campaign is still going up, and it’s gone to everything from mental health charities to buying shields for Ukrainian troops to The country’s drone program Across United 24an initiative led by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Saint Javelin’s sketch came from artist Chris Shaw’s Madonnas line drag series in 2012. Shaw painted pictures of Mary holding such things as a 40-ounce bottle of malt liquor, a bomber jacket, and a gun. Online, the photo has evolved into a meme and replaced the gun with a spear. It was the version that Boris appeared in in early 2022 and was used as a springboard for his campaign. In February, Saint Javelin was widely spread, and in April, Shaw . was released His own version of it.

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“Maybe it was a failed attempt to somehow get my art back from the Internet,” Shaw wrote. his personal site On April 3 “or maybe the first viral change was a little sloppy in some places.”

Shu board on loan to National Museum and World War I Memorial in Kansas City, Mo. In its description of the piece, the museum refers to Saint Javelin’s place in the long history of images of Mary used in times of war. They wrote: “The use of images of the Christian saint and the Virgin Mary to inspire action and foster hope in war goes back centuries.”

It is easy to find false prayers and sincere thanksgiving messages for Saint Javelin online, but despite following the cult, the campaign is not without its critics. When a mural of Saint Javelin was completed in the Ukrainian capital in May by Kiev-based art group Kailas-V, the saint’s aura was mysteriously erased. The organization reportedly blamed the city’s mayor, Vitali Klitschko.

“Saint Javelin scandal,” Boris said sarcastically Twitter In response to criticism in May.

Hyman, associate professor of art history at the Catholic University, has raised the question of whether an image is blasphemous is a centuries-old question.

“You’ve been stepping into a stream for as long as there have been pictures of Marianne: is it okay to photograph Mary?” Hyman asked. “I mean, these are centuries-old speech sources,” she said.

Since Saint Javelin’s style is clearly drawn on Byzantine and Orthodox images of Mary, Heymann said it makes sense that some would find it offensive or blasphemous. Boris reserves the decision to use the image of Mary, which was not the result of blasphemy or disrespect.

“Obviously it’s a joke photo, isn’t it?” Boris said. “It’s a meme. It’s the way people talk on the Internet.”

What started as a highly specialized online prank in gun group chats has become a global brand. Borys owns a brick-and-mortar office and storefront in Toronto, rents co-working space in Lviv, and has factories throughout Ukraine. Saint Javelin is now his full time job. He hopes to continue to grow the movement, and garner more support for the resistance.

“A million dollars is just a drop in the sea when it comes to fighting a war,” he said.

Joshua Carroll contributed to this report.

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