May 20th: Our Lady of the Protection (2)

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On October 14th of the Gregorian calendar (October 1st of the Julian calendar) the Orthodox Church triumphantly and joyfully celebrates the feast of the Protection of the Most Holy Virgin. Established in the 12th century, this holiday is a favorite of the Russian Orthodox people and celebrates the rescue of Constantinople from the attack of a Rus’ Khaganate army, over one thousand years ago.

The event happened during an all-night vigil in the church of Saint Mary of Blachernae, in Constantinople. The church was overcrowded with people in prayer who were imploring Mary’s protection. At four in the morning, the Fool-for-Christ St. Andrei saw the Theotokos entering the doors of the church, surrounded by an assembly of Saints. Saint John the Baptist and Saint John the Theologian accompanied the Queen of Heaven.

The Theotokos approached the center of the church, knelt down and remained in prayer for a long time, her face drowned in tears. The Virgin Mary asked Her Son, Jesus Christ, to accept the prayers of all the people entreating Him and looking for Her protection. Then she took her veil off and spread it over the people as a sign of protection. The most Holy Lady was resplendent with heavenly glory and the protecting veil in her hands gleamed “more than the rays of the sun.” While gazing at the miraculous vision, Saint Andrei asked his disciple Epiphanius, “Do you see the Mother of God and Queen of Heaven?” to which Epiphanius answered, “I do see Holy Father, and I am in awe.”

Due to the intercession of the Mother of God, Constantinople was spared from bloodshed and suffering.

Rejoice, Land of the Uncontained God.
Rejoice, Gate of the sacred mystery.
Rejoice, doubtful Rumour of the faithless.
Rejoice, undoubtful Pride of the faithful.
Rejoice, all-holy Chariot of Him Who is above the Cherubim.
Rejoice, most excellent Dwelling-place of Him Who is above the Seraphim.

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