Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
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! - Troparion of the Feast of the Protection
Every year on October 1st, the Orthodox Church celebrates a special feast which is called “The Feast of the Protection of the Most Holy Theotokos and Ever-Virgin May” or more simply known as “The Protection;” in English and “Pokrov” in Russian. This beautiful feast is especially dear to those of Slavic backgrounds. To sum up the origins of this feast: on Sunday, October 1, during the All-Night Vigil, when the church was overflowing with those at prayer, the Fool-for-Christ Saint Andrew, whose feast came to be celebrated the following day, at the fourth hour, lifted up his eyes towards the heavens and beheld our most Holy Lady Theotokos coming through the air, resplendent with heavenly light and surrounded by an assembly of the Saints. Saint John the Baptist and the Holy Apostle John the Theologian accompanied by the Theotokos who appeared in all her glory as the Queen of Heaven. Kneeling down, the Most Holy Virgin tearfully prayed for all Christians. Then, coming near the bishop’s throne, she continued her prayer. 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 was resplendent with heavenly glory, and the protecting veil in her hands gleamed “more than the rays of the sun.” Saint Andrew gazed trembling at the miraculous vision, and he asked his disciple, the blessed Epiphanius standing beside him, “Do you see, brother, the Holy Theotokos, praying for all the world?” Epiphanius answered, “I do see, holy Father, and I am in awe.”
The Ever-Blessed Mother of God implored her Divine Son to accept the prayers of all the people who call on His Most Holy Name, and to respond speedily to her intercession, “O Heavenly King, accept all those who pray to You and call on my name for help. Do not let them go away from my icon unheard.”
In the Prologue, a book compiled in the twelfth century, a description of the establishment of the special Feast marking this event states, “For when we heard, we realized how wondrous and merciful was the vision... and it transpired that Your holy Protection should not remain without festal celebration, O Ever-Blessed One!” Therefore, in the festal celebration of the Protection of the Mother of God, the Orthodox Church sings, “With the choirs of the Angels, O Sovereign Lady, with the venerable and glorious prophets, with the First-Ranked Apostles and with the Hieromartyrs and Hierarchs, pray for us sinners, glorifying the Feast of your Protection…”
On the Feast of the Protection of the Most Holy Theotokos we implore the continuing protection and assistance of the Queen of Heaven, “Remember us in your prayers, O Lady Virgin Mother of God, that we do 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.”
In these difficult and challenging times, let us recall the words we sing so often: “You always protect those who honor you,” and let pray together that the Holy Theotokos may continue to watch over, protect, and intercede for our parish, our families, and all our loved ones.
With love in the Lord,