On October 1 (October 14 according to the Gregorian calendar), the Church celebrates a great holiday – the Protection of the Mother of God. It is believed that one of the probable reasons for the establishment of the holiday was the miraculous deliverance of the Orthodox city of Constantinople from a brutal raid of Saracens; however, there are also theories that Constantinople was rescued from the pagan barbarian Russians at that time. Be that as it may, it was thanks to the prayers of the Mother of God and Her holy intercession for the Christian nation that the huge city was delivered from imminent bloodshed. Christians are delighted that the Virgin Mary constantly looks after all those who come to her, and there are countless testimonies to that effect. Here are just a few of them.
I. Saving Russia from Tamerlane. The great conqueror Khan Tamerlane moved his troops to Russia in 1395. Nobody could stop him because he was the greatest military leader and conqueror of that era. All Christians were assiduously praying to the Virgin whose miracle-working icon of Vladimir was carried by a religious procession from Vladimir to Moscow on Assumption Day. Tamerlane had a dream in which a glorious Queen, surrounded by white-bearded elders, ordered the khan to leave Russia. The Khan’s advisers explained to Tamerlane Who had appeared to him, and he drew back his troops. Russia was rescued. The well-known Sretensky Monastery was built in honor of the event at the place where Muscovites met the icon.
II. Rescuing Pochaev. In 1675, on the second day of the Assumption Fast, a 50,000-strong Turkish and Tatar army of Khan Nureddin approached the Pochaev Monastery. All its residents, including monks, took up arms and kept on praying to the Mother of God. All of a sudden, clouds parted and the Virgin Mary herself appeared over the cathedral surrounded by angels and St. Job of Pochaev who was praying to Her. The Tatars began to shoot at the vision, but their arrows turned backwards and hit many of them. Panic broke out, and the entire invading army fled. Many Tatar soldiers were captured. Thanks to the miracle, some Muslims converted to Christianity and stayed in the monastery forever.
III. Augustowo Forests. During the night of September 7-8, 1914, on the day of the Nativity of the Mother of God, the Virgin Mary with the Holy Child appeared to the Russian soldiers in the sky. This miraculous phenomenon took place on the eve of the bloody Warsaw-Ivangorod operation which was one of the major battles of the First World War. During the battle, the encouraged Russian troops managed to stop the offensive of the German and Austro-Hungarian troops which prevented Germany from drawing the Balkan states to its side in 1914. Russia, Germany, and Austria-Hungary lost a total of 150 thousand dead and wounded. According to reports, none of those who had seen the phenomenon were killed.
IV. The Stalingrad Omen. On November 11, 1942, during the bloody and fateful Battle of Stalingrad, several Soviet soldiers witnessed the apparition of the Mother of God for several minutes, which even stopped the relentless firing. The victory in the Battle of Stalingrad was a turning point in the Second World War and the defeat of fascism.
V. Rescue of a Village. There are other known instances of the apparition of the Mother of God during the Great Patriotic War. For example, the residents of v. Ražkoŭka in Belarus escaped punishment due to a miracle seen in the sky by a German pilot who was passing near the village at that moment. He saw the Virgin Mary who ordered him to save innocent people and pointed her hand in the direction of the village. The pilot landed and saw people standing next to a ditch waiting to be shot. He canceled the execution. A total of 276 people were rescued.
We have described only five miracles of the Most Holy Theotokos, which testify to the unceasing protection and prayers of the Virgin Mary to God for the salvation of people. There are many more miraculous phenomena, signs and miracles, and not all of them have been recorded. We offer our gratitude to God for all of His blessings which are poured upon us thanks to the Virgin Mary’s prayers – “for all of them that we know and those that we know not; for the revealed and unrevealed blessings that came upon us” (St. John Chrysostom’s Anaphora). The Protection of the Most Holy Theotokos is a holiday of great hope and great joy for all Christians, who were adopted by the Mother of God in the person of the Apostle John the Theologian, the Lord’s beloved disciple. Let us piously honor the Blessed Virgin Mary, resort to Her in prayers, and thank the Lord Jesus for His Divine Providence, which protects us on the journeys of our lives.