Pope blesses icon depicting Mary, Jesus as Kazakhs

STORY: Some 70 percent of Kazakhstan are Sunni Muslims, and only around one percent Catholics.

The icon creater, a prominent local artist, Dosbol Kasymov, told Reuters that he considers himself as Muslim but it did not matter because emotions are the same for the whole humanity.

As Kasymov explained, some details on the work are of significance for many Kazakhs, including the appearance of Mary - knows as Maryam in Islam. In the artist's work, she wears the national headdress worn by married women. Other details include a national first-in-life Kazakh baby shirt and an ancient Mongolian rug.

The icon "Mother of Grand Steppe" will be placed in the Kazakhstan's National Shrine of the Queen of Peace in Ozyornoye, a village 300 kilometres north of Nur-Sultan that was founded in 1936 by the Polish catholics deported from Ukraine by the Soviet authorities.