The Saturday of the Akathist is a feast celebrated on the fifth Saturday of the Great Lent. It commemorates the icon of the Theotokos “Laudation of the Virgin”, depicting to Most Holy Virgin sitting on a throne amid the Prophets with scrolls. Lover of mankind and protectress of God’s children, the Theotokos worked multiple miracles that saved many lives when the faithful invoked Her name in prayer before this icon.
In the seventh century, the Byzantine Empire was fighting an invasion by the Persians. The hostile armies had approached its capital Constantinople threatening to lay siege to the city from land and sea. Many despaired, but the faithful – led by Patriarch Sergius – did not lose heart and prayed day and night. After a long prayer vigil, Patriarch Sergius led a procession with the Cross of the Lord, the Robe of the Theotokos and the icon "Laudation of the Virgin". The faithful put the robe in the water and prayed before the icon. Soon, a storm began on the sea that destroyed most of the invaders' boats. The city's defenders repelled the rest. The Christians raised prayers to God and the Theotokos for their delivery from death and destruction. Decades later, in 655 and 705 the intercession of the Theotokos spared Constantinople from two large invasions of the Saracens.
The celebration of the feast began in honour of these victories. It includes the reading of the Akathist to the Mother of God. Byzantine emperor Alexius gave the icon to the Dionysiou Monastery on Mount Athos, where it began to flow with myrrh. In Russia, multiple copies of the icon were made, of which at least three were reported to work miracles before the Revolution. The feast sends a powerful message to all of us – not to lose our hope and trust in the Lord and the intercession of the Most Holy Virgin in even the most hopeless situations.