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Protection of the Theotokos

October 1

O Chosen by the pre-eternal God, Queen of heaven and earth higher than all creation, who hast in days past entered praying into the Church of the Blachernae we, offering Thee with thanksgiving due veneration, flee with faith and compunction under Thy shining vestment for we lie in darkness. And Thou who hast invincible power does set us free from every affliction that we may cry to Thee:

Hail! Our Joy, protect us from every ill by Thy precious veil.

The Feast of the Protection commemorates the appearance of the most holy Theotokos in the Church of Blachernae in Constantinople in the early sixth century, as recorded in the life of Saint Andrew the Fool for Christ’s sake. While the multitudes of the faithful were gathered in Church, Our venerable Epiphanius, the friend of Saint Andrew, through the Saint’s prayers, beheld the Virgin Mary above the faithful and spreading out her veil over them, signifying her unceasing protection of all Christians. Because of this we keep a yearly feast of gratProtection of the Theotokos itude, imploring our Lady never to cease sheltering us in her mighty prayers.

During our Divine Services we have become accustomed to seeing clergy, choir, and parishioners in attendance, but we have completely forgotten that others are invisibly present: God’s holy Angels, His holy Saints, the Most-holy Virgin, and our Lord Himself, are there as well. Our venerable fathers Andrew together Epiphanius, and many other righteous ones could see this. We do not see, because it is “the pure in heart [who] see.” It is only the pure in heart who are capable of beholding what mystically transpires within the Church; only they behold those who stand alongside us in Church. I suppose that we could not bear the actual sight of the spiritual world as it really is. The more one grows spiritually, the more one can see and understand. For our part, we occasionally hear “Now the Hosts of Heaven invisibly worship with us.” The Feast of the Protection of the Mother of God-Pokrova reminds us that Heaven reaches all the way to the earth.

In times of national misfortune, as in times of individual trials and sorrows, the faithful rush to God’s temples, rush to the Protection of the Mother of God, and ask of the Queen of Heaven her defense and assistance: “Remember us in thy supplications, O Virgin Lady and Theotokos, that we not perish because of the multitude of our sins. Protect us from all evil and grievous perils, for in thee do we put our trust, and honoring the feast of thy protection, we magnify thee.”

O Most Holy Theotokos – Cover us with thy wondrous omophorion, and preserve us from all evil!

Interior of the Church of Panagia of Blachernae in Constantinople