My beloved spiritual children in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE. Ο ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΕΝ ΤΩ ΜΕΣΩ ΗΜΩΝ! ΚΑΙ ΗΝ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΙ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΑΙ.
THE PROTECTION OF OUR MOST HOLY LADY THE MOTHER OF GOD AND EVER-VIRGIN MARY
The Protection of the Most Holy Theotokos: "Today the Virgin stands in the midst of the Church, and with choirs of Saints she invisibly prays to God for us. Angels and Bishops venerate Her, Apostles and Prophets rejoice together, since for our sake she prays to the Eternal God."
This miraculous appearance of the Mother of God occurred in the mid-tenth century in Constantinople, in the Vlachernae church where her robe, veil, and part of her belt were preserved after being transferred from Palestine in the fifth century.
After completing her prayer she took her veil and spread it over the people praying in church, protecting them from enemies both visible and invisible. The Most Holy Lady Theotokos was resplendent with heavenly glory, and the protecting veil in her hands gleamed "more than the rays of the sun." Saint Andrew gazed trembling at the miraculous vision and he asked his disciple, the blessed Epiphanius standing beside him, "Do you see, brother, the Holy Theotokos, praying for all the world?" Epiphanius answered, "I do see, holy Father, and I am in awe."
The Ever-Blessed Mother of God implored the Lord Jesus Christ to accept the prayers of all the people calling on His Most Holy Name, and to respond speedily to her intercession, "O Heavenly King, accept all those who pray to You and call on my name for help. Do not let them not go away from my icon unheard."
Saints Andrew and Epiphanius were worthy to see the Mother of God at prayer, and "for a long time observed the Protecting Veil spread over the people and shining with flashes of glory. As long as the Most Holy Theotokos was there, the protecting veil was also visible, but with her departure it also became invisible. After taking it with her, she left behind the grace of her visitation.
At the Vlachernae church, the memory of the miraculous appearance of the Mother of God was remembered. In the 14th Century, the Russian pilgrim and clerk Alexander, saw in the church an icon of the Most Holy Theotokos praying for the world, depicting Saint Andrew in contemplation of her.
The Primary Chronicle of Saint Nestor reflects that the protective intercession of the Mother of God was needed because an attack of a large pagan Russian fleet under the leadership of Askole and Dir. The feast celebrates the divine destruction of the fleet which threatened Constantinople itself, sometime in the years 864-867 A.D. or according to the Russian Historian Vasiliev, on June 18, 860. Ironically, this feast is considered important by the Slavic Churches but not by the Greeks.
On the Feast of the Holy Protection of the Most Holy Theotokos we implore the defense and assistance of the Queen of Heaven. "Remember us in your prayers, O Lady Virgin Mother of God, that we not perish by the increase of our sins. Protect us from every evil and from grievous woes, for in you do we hope, and venerating the Feast of your Protection we magnify you." (Orthodox Church in America)
Please note: The Protection of the Mother of God is one of the most beloved feast days on the Orthodox calendar among the Slavic peoples, commemorated on October 1st. The feast is celebrated additionally on October 28th in the Greek tradition. It is also known as the feast of the Virgin Mary's Cerement.
In most Slavic languages the word "cerement" has a dual meaning of "veil" and "protection". The Russian word Pokrov, like the Greek word Skepi (Σκέπη), has a complex meaning. First of all, it refers to a cloak or shroud, but it also means protection or intercession. For this reason, the name of the feast is variously translated as the Veil of Our Lady, the Protecting Veil of the Theotokos, the Protection of the Theotokos, or the intercession of the Theotokos.
Celebration of the Feast
The Protection is commemorated most fervently in Slavic churches, probably because Saint Andrei was a Slav. The first celebration of the Theotokos's cerement in the Russian Orthodox Church dates back from the 12th century and today is celebrated throughout the Orthodox Church.
The feast day commemorating the miracle is celebrated with an All-Night Vigil, with many of the same elements as occur on Great Feasts of the Theotokos. However, this feast has no afterfeast.
In recent years, the Feast of the Protection has become associated with thanksgiving for the deliverance of the Greek nation from the Italian invasion of 1940. These events are commemorated in Greece in a National Holiday know as "Ochi Day" or "No Day", referring to the response of the Greek leader Metaxas to Mussolini's ultimatum.
In recognition of this, and because of the many miracles of the Holy Virgin which were reported by Greek soldiers during the Greco-Italian War of 1940-1941, the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece elected in 1952 to transfer the Feast from October 1st to October 28th.
The Ecumenical Patriarchate also provides for this usage in its parishes in Greece and the Greek diaspora, and it is generally observed now throughout the Greek-speaking world. The observance includes the chanting of a Doxology incorporating hymns recognizing the Protection of the Theotokos over the Greek nation, as well as the kontakion "O Champion Leader."
About the Icon
Two different events that took place four hundred years apart are combine in this one icon. Both events took place in the former Church of Vlachernae in Constantinople.
The icon of the feast, Protection of the Mother of God, shows the Theotokos standing above the faithful with her arms outstretched in prayer and draped with a veil. On both sides of her are Angels. On the lower right of most icons of this feast, are Saints Andrew and his disciple Epiphaneus who saw this vision of the Mother of God, with the Twelve Apostles, Bishops, holy women, monks and martyrs, spreading her veil in protection over the congregation. Saint Epiphanius is wearing a tunic under his cloak and gestures in astonishment at the miraculous appearance, while Saint Andrei, Fool-for-Christ, is dressed only in a cloak.
Below the Theotokos, in the center of the icon, stands a young man with a halo, he is clothed in deacon's sticharion. In his left hand, he is holding an open scroll with the text of the Kontakion for Nativity in honor of the Mother of God. This is Saint Romanos the Melodos, the famous hymnographer whose feast is also celebrated on the same day, October 1st. He is with his choir attended by the Emperor Leo the Wise together with the Empress and the Patriarch of Constantinople.
Apolytikion (Dismissal) Hymn. Tone Four
Today the faithful celebrate the feast with joy illumined by your coming, O Mother of God. Beholding your pure image we fervently cry to you: "Encompass us beneath the precious veil of your protection; deliver us from every form of evil by entreating Christ, your Son and our God that He may save our souls.
Kontakion Hymn. Tone Three
Today the Virgin stands in the midst of the Church and with choirs of Saints she invisibly prays to God for us. Angels and bishops worship, Apostles and Prophets rejoice together, since for our sake she prays to the pre-eternal God.
(Source: Orthodox Wiki)
MY BLESSING TO ALL OF YOU
The Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God and Father, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.
Glory Be To GOD For All Things!
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God