The Protection of the Mother of God (Pokrov)
“Today the Virgin stands in the midst of the Church, and with choirs of Saints she invisibly prays to God for us. Angels and Bishops venerate Her, Apostles and prophets rejoice together, since for our sake she prays to the Eternal God!”
From time immemorial, the Church has celebrated the Most-holy Theotokos as the patroness and protectress of the Christian people, who, by her intercessory prayers, implores God’s mercy for us sinners. The help of the Most-holy Mother of God has been clearly shown numerous times, to individuals and to nations, in peace and in war, in monastic deserts and in densely populated cities. The event that the Church commemorates and celebrates today confirms the Theotokos’ consistent protection of Christian people.
On October 1st, 911 there was an all-night vigil at the Blachernae church of the Mother of God in Constantinople. The church was crowded. Constantinople, the capital of the Byzantine Empire, was under threat of invasion and the people were praying for God’s help in the Blachernae Church in the suburb of the city. It was in this church that the omophor or veil of the Virgin Mary was reserved as a most precious relic.
According to tradition, on Sunday, October 1 at 4:00 am, the Holy Virgin appeared, accompanied by St. John the Forerunner, St. John the Evangelist and several saints. The Theotokos approached the center of the church, knelt down and remained in prayer for a long time. Her face was covered in tears. After completing her prayer, she took her veil and spread it over the people praying in church, protecting them from enemies both visible and invisible. The Most Holy Lady Theotokos, clad in gold-encrusted purple, was resplendent with heavenly glory, and the protecting veil in her hands shone with an unspeakable radiance. After the appearance of the Mother of God, the danger of barbarian invasion was averted and the city was spared from bloodshed and suffering.
The Most Holy Virgin, Mother of God is the mediator between heaven and earth, the intercessor for the world before the throne of the glory of God. One could say that the Virgin sits in the front pew leading us in prayer to her Son. The world is not left in sorrow; mankind is not left to grieve alone. The Mother of God grieves and cries for us. We know that we are great sinners, but we also know that we are not forgotten by the Mother of God who is close to every human soul. What is more comforting? Throughout all the centuries the hearts of believers have been illumined with the joy of the Protection of the Mother of God, the joy of her prayers for the world. Yes, the joy and light of the Protection of the Mother of God is on us, in us, in our hearts and in our country.
This Feast of Pokrov came to Ukraine with the reception of the Christian faith. Ukraine, being a land abundantly blessed, was often and presently is in danger from invaders. The reminder of a Mother who protects – not only from, but in – times of distress was and is so appealing!
On the Feast of the Protection of the Most Holy Theotokos we implore the defense and assistance of the Queen of Heaven, “Remember us in your prayers, O Lady Virgin Mother of God that we not perish by the increase of our sins. Protect us from every evil and from grievous woes, for in you do we hope, and venerating the Feast of your Protection, we magnify you.”
“Through the prayers of the Most Holy Theotokos, Savior, save us!”
Adapted with appreciation from:Orthodox Church in American at https://oca.org/saints/lives/2017/10/01/102824-the-protection-of-our-most-holy-lady-the-mother-of-god-and-ever
Additional Source: Prologue of Ohrid