Icons of the Theotokos: The Holy Protection

After a long absence, we mark the return of this column, which proceeds one of the most well-known feasts in Orthodoxy.

The Feast of the Protection, or the Intercession of the Theotokos (October 28), marks an event of the 10th century, when a vision of the Theotokos appeared to those praying an All-Night Vigil in the Blachernae Church in Constantinople.  According to Tradition, St. Andrew the Blessed Fool for Christ witnessed the dome of the Church open and the Virgin Mary descending, surrounded by the angels and saints.

Kneeling, she prayed and cried for all the Christians of the world, entreating Her Son on their behalf. St. Andrew, his disciple, and all who were present, witnessed the Holy Virgin walk toward the altar in prayer, before spread her cloak as protection for all those in the Church.

The Holy Protection

The Holy Protection

In the vast majority of the Orthodox Church, this miraculous appearance is observed on its feast day of October 1st. However, the Greek Orthodox Church transferred its observance of the feast to October 28, in honor of the historical observance of “Oxi Day”, when the Greek government formally rejected Benito Mussolini’s ultimatum to have the fascist Italian army occupy certain supposed “strategic areas” of Greece, thereby drawing Greece formally into World War Two.

Given the traditional significance of the Holy Protection, to say nothing of the numerous appearances and miracles attributed to the Virgin Mary in Greece during the war, on October 21, 1952, the Church of Greece officially declared that the feast of the Holy Protection should become a dual celebration along with “Oxi Day”, to mark the saving protection of the Theotokos throughout all times, ancient and modern.

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