The Protection of Our Most Holy Lady, the Mother of God
Commemorated on October 1
“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-10th century in Constantinople, in the Blachernae church where her robe, veil, and part of her belt were preserved after being transferred from Palestine in the fifth century. On Sunday, October 1, during the All Night Vigil, when the church was overflowing with those at prayer, the Fool-for-Christ St. Andrew lifted up his eyes towards the heavens and beheld our most Holy Lady Theotokos coming through the air, resplendent with heavenly light and surrounded by an assembly of the Saints. St. John the Baptist and the holy Apostle John the Theologian accompanied the Queen of Heaven. On bended knees the Most Holy Virgin tearfully prayed for Christians.
After completing her prayer, she took her veil and spread it over the people in the church, protecting them from enemies both visible and invisible. She was resplendent with heavenly glory, and the protecting veil in her hands gleamed “more than the rays of the sun.” St. 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.” Ss. 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 Theotokos was there, the Protecting Veil was also visible, but when she departed it became invisible. After taking it with her, she left behind the grace of her visitation.”
The memory of the miraculous appearance of the Mother of God was recalled at this same church hundreds of years later. In the 14th century, the Russian pilgrim Alexander saw an icon of the Most Holy Theotokos praying for the world, depicting St. Andrew in contemplation of her. On this feast, 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.”
Troparion (Tone 4) –
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 (Tone 3) –
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.
By permission of Orthodox Church in America (www.oca.org)