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Virgin of Protection, Istanbul, Turkey

Commemorated on October 14
Virgin of Protection, Istanbul, Turkey Begun in 450 by Empress Aelia Pulcheria, the church complex of St. Mary in the Blachernae district of Constantinople was one of the most sacred sites in Byzantium, housing a fountain of holy water, a miraculous icon of the Virgin, and her robe, sash, and veil. As the Greek word for veil or mantle also means "protection," the relics of Blachernae became associated with God's protective power manifested through his mother. The feast of Our Lady of Protection (Russian Pokrov) is celebrated throughout the Orthodox and Byzantine Catholic churches, on October 1 (old style), 14 (modern calendar) or 28 (liberation of Greece). Today's date commemorates an apparition to St. Andrew the Fool (d. 936), his disciple Epiphanius, and other people praying in the church during an all-night vigil. Those who witnessed the Virgin enter the church, kneel in tearful prayer, then ascend, holding her veil over the congregation, took it as a sign of her care for them. Some sources place the October apparition in 911, others during the Russian naval siege of the 860s. (Picture of Dionisy's 1502 fresco in the Virgin Nativity Cathedral, St. Ferapont Belozero Monastery, Ferapontovo, Kirillov, Vologda, Russia from The Museum of Dionisy's Frescoes,


The Feast of the Pskov-Protection Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos was established in memory of the miraculous deliverance of Pskov from the invading troops of the Polish king Stephen Bathory in 1581. During the siege, they carried forth the wonderworking Dormition Icon of the Mother of God in procession from the monastery.
On the eve of the decisive fighting, the pious blind Elder Dorotheus the Smith had a vision of the Most Holy Theotokos at the spot where the enemy had prepared to attack, at a corner of the fortress of the monastery in honor of the Protection of the Most Holy Theotokos.
The Most Holy Virgin appeared to the Elder Dorotheus with various Russian Saints: the holy Great Prince Vladimir and the Pskov Princes Vsevolod-Gabriel and Dovmont-Timothy, St Anthony of Kiev Caves, Cornelius of Pskov, Euphrosynus of Spaso-Elazar and Sava of Krypetsk, Blessed Nicholas of Pskov and St Niphon, Archbishop of Novgorod, the organizer of the Pskov Spaso-Mirozh monastery.
Proceeding from the Pechor side from the Spaso-Mirozhsk monastery across the River Velika, the Mother of God with the Saints entered the church of the Protection monastery. The Saints besought the All-Pure Virgin to have pity on the sinful citizens of Pskov and save the city “from the imposition of woes.” The Most Holy Theotokos, having promised the city Her mercy, gave orders to set up the Pechersk icon at the place of Her appearance.
During the battle the Polish tried to breach the fortress wall, but through the intercession of the Mother of God and the Saints, they were not able to break through into the city. After their deliverance from the enemy, the grateful people of Pskov built a church in honor of the Nativity of the Most Holy Theotokos.
For the temple of the Protection Most Holy Theotokos, the Pskov-Pechersk icon of the Mother of God was painted, which has also been given the name, “Appearance of the Mother of God to the Elder Dorotheus.” The appearance of the Most Holy Theotokos occurred on September 7, and celebration of the Pskov-Pechersk Icon was established on October 1. A special service was compiled for the Feast of the Most Holy Theotokos.




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