Holy Protection of the Virgin Mary
Since the earliest days of the Church Christians have honored the most holy Virgin Mary as the patroness and protectress of all Christians. Her protection and intercessory power are specially commemorated in the icon of the Holy Protection. This icon is especially popular with Russian and Greek Orthodox Christians, who celebrate this Marian feast day on October 1st and 26th respectively.
The feast was instituted to commemorate the appearance of the Mother of God to Saint Andrew the Fool in Christ in Constantinople in the tenth century. On the night of October 1, 911, Saint Andrew and his disciple Epiphanius were standing in the rear of the Blachernae Church of the Mother of God during an all-night vigil. The Blachernae Palace church was where several of the Virgin Mary’s relics were kept, including her robe and veil, transferred there from Palestine during the fifth century.
At four a.m. the Most Holy Virgin appeared above the people, holding her veil outstretched as a protective covering for the faithful. She shone with an effable radiance and was surrounded by a company of apostles, saints, martyrs and virgins.
Saint Andrew said to his disciple, “Do you see, brother, the Queen and Lady of all praying for the whole world?” Epiphanius replied, “I see, Father, and am struck with amazement!”
At that time the people in the city were threatened by a barbarian invasion. But after the Virgin’s appearance, the danger was averted and the city was spared.
In the Monastery Icons image of the Holy Protection of the Virgin Mary, Our Lady is shown in the orans (prayer) pose as was often done in ancient icons. Above her hands are the abbreviations (MP ΘΥ in Greek) for "Mother of God."