For the Russian Orthodox Church, the Protection of the Mother of God is a great feast. We commemorate the miracle of Constantinople’s salvation from the death and destruction brought by the invading Pagan armies.
Expecting an imminent attack, the people of Constantinople gathered at a church to pray. Among them was Saint Andrew Fool for Christ. He saw the Virgin Mary enter the church, walk across the floor, kneel before the altar and pray in tears. Then she spread her veil over the faithful as she rose into the air. Through Her intercession and the prayers of the faithful, the enemy withdrew without a battle.
Her protective veil is our visible sign of Her intercession for the faithful at the throne of our Lord in the most difficult moments of our history. She protected us when the enemy was about to strike at the heart of their homeland, and when people were being persecuted for their faith.
For people of every generation, their most difficult moment is perhaps their present. Everywhere, we hear from the people, “What terrible times! Life has never been harder. Is it the end of time?” When our last days will come, we cannot know. But sometimes, the magnitude of human suffering, hardship, and pain can throw us into despair. But let us remind ourselves that people in worse situations have come out of them successfully, and emerged stronger than before. The anguish of our ancestors who saw their faith attacked and persecuted was untold, yet they never ceased to pray to God and the Holy Theotokos for protection. Their prayers were answered.
So let us not lose heart. Let us persist in our prayers, even in the face of what seems to be an imminent disaster or threat of death. Let us pray like the people of Constantinople, and not fall into despair.
May the Lord help us keep our firm belief in Our Lady’s intercession. We pray for Her protection from evil, especially for the innocent souls and pure hearts of our children who are most vulnerable. We pray so that we will never lose our faith in God and in our salvation.
My warmest congratulations to you on this splendid feast. May the Lord save and protect you all!
Kirill, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia