The Protection of Our Most Holy Lady the Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary, 2019

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 1. The feast is celebrated additionally on October 28 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 (Покров), like the Greek 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.

The story has it that on October 1st, 911, during the reign of Emperor Leo the Wise, an all-night vigil was being held at the Blachernae Church of the Mother of God in Constantinople, with many of the faithful crowding the church. St Andrew the Fool for Christ (commemorated tomorrow, October 2nd) was standing at the back of the church with his disciple Epiphanius. At around four in the morning, the most holy Theotokos appeared above the people, clothed in resplendent garments, surrounded by indescribable radiance, and holding a veil in her outstretched hands, as though to protect all the people. St Andrew said to Epiphanius ‘Do you see how the Queen and Lady of all is praying for the whole world?’ Epiphanius replied ‘Yes, Father, I see it and stand in dread.’ This wonderful event is recorded in Epiphanius’ life of St Andrew. Because of it, the Church keeps an annual feast on this date.

The Dormition of The Mother Of God (The Theotokos)

The Feast of The Dormition of The Most Holy Mother Of God (The Theotokos) is celebrated is celebrated on August 15 each year. The Feast commemorates the repose (dormition and in the Greek kimisis) or “falling-asleep” of the Mother of Jesus Christ, our Lord. The Feast also commemorates the translation or assumption into heaven of the body of the Theotokos.

On the Cross, the Lord charged “the apostle He loved” (considered by tradition to be the Apostle John) to care for His holy Mother. After having been settled by the Apostle in a house in Jerusalem, The holy Mother lived for the rest of her days on earth, praying and offering counsel and encouragement to the Apostles.

It is unknown how old she was when the Archangel Gabriel appeared to her and told her that in three days’ time she would enter into her rest, but many say that she was about 60 years old. After receiving the news from the Archangel, The holy Mother gave thanks to God and hastened to the Mount of Olives, where she prayed continually, preparing herself to meet the Lord.

Meanwhile, the Apostles, scattered in various parts of the earth, were caught up in clouds and miraculously brought by the holy Angels to Jerusalem, so that they might all be with the Theotokos at her repose. After she had blessed them, she gave up her soul to God. The Apostles buried her with all honor, solemnity and joy at Gethsemane.

The Apostle Thomas was delayed by God’s providence, and arrived on the third day. The other apostles went with him to her tomb, intending to honor her. But when the Apostles opened her grave, they found her holy body gone and only the winding-sheet remaining. That evening the Theotokos appeared to them surrounded by angels, and said to them, ‘Rejoice: I will be with you always!’. Thus they learned that she had been bodily translated to heaven, anticipating the general resurrection of all.

If you want to read more about the Icon of The Feast of The Dormition of The Mother Of God, I invite you to read this article. More information about the appearance and the personality of The Holy Theotokos can be found here.

The Catholic Feast of The Virgin Mary

Today Catholics celebrate the feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, as decreed by Pope Francis. Viva la Virgen!

As Bishop Biron puts it, “if Mary is the one through whom Christ was born, and the Church is Christ’s Mystical Body, then she must be the Mother of the Church.”