Protection of the Mother of God

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Protection of the Theotokos

The Protection of the Mother of God is one of the most beloved feast days on the Orthodox calendar, especially among the Slavic peoples, commemorated on October 1. It is also known as Virgin Mary's Cerement. In most Slavic languages the word "cerement" has a dual meaning of "veil" and "protection."

The feast day celebrates the appearance of the Mother of God at Blachernae (Vlaherna) in the tenth century. At the end of St. Andrei (Andrew of Constantinople) Yurodivyi's life (d. around 936; feast day: October 2), a group of people saw the Mother of God, St. John the Baptist, and several other saints during a vigil in the Church of Blachernae, nearby the city gates.

The Theotokos approached the center of the church, knelt down and remained in prayer for a long time. Her face was drowned in tears. Then she took her veil (cerement) off and spread it over the people as a sign of protection. During the time, the people in the city were threatened by a barbarian invasion. After the appearance of the Mother of God, the danger was averted and the city was spared from bloodshed and suffering.

The Protection is commemorated most fervently in Slavic churches, probably because St. Andrei was a Slav. The first celebration of the Theotokos's cerement in the Russian Orthodox Church dates back from the 12th century and today is celebrated throughout the Orthodox Church.

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