Devotionally for Catholics in the Roman rite, October is dedicated to the Holy Rosary. The reason for this is that the feast of the Holy Rosary is on October 7th which commemorates the protection of Christians through the intersession of Our Lady on one particular occasion. I may write about that later but I would like to bring attention to another Marian feature of the month, which most western Christians are not aware of.
This past Sunday I fulfilled my obligation at the local Ukrainian Catholic Church. As a result I found out about the Feast of the Protection of the Mother of God. In the Slavic branch of the Byzantine tradition this a major feast and is celebrated on October 1. I tried to do a little reading up on the feast to learn more about the historical event it commemorates, but the things I read were inconsistent as to the details.
I’ll give a rough sketch of the event but like I say I haven’t found a clear account. Sometime in the late 9th century Constantinople as under threat from either “a horde of Mohammedans” or a “fleet of pagan Russians”. During an all-night vigil in a church the Mother of God appeared at about 4 am with a host of saints and was seen to hold up her arms in prayer, then remove her Mantle and cover the people with it. (Kinda fits in with the title of this blog doesn’t it)
From the Liturgy of the feast
Today the faithful celebrate the feast with joy illumined by your coming, O Mother of God. Beholding your pure image we fervently cry to you: “Encompass us beneath the precious veil of your protection; deliver us from every form of evil by entreating Christ, your Son and our God that He may save our souls.”
Here is the Icon associated with this feast.