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July 2, 2020

Homily One on the Feast of the Deposition of the Honorable Robe of the Theotokos (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos

Today our Church, beloved brethren, commemorates the Deposition of the Honorable Robe of our Most Holy Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary in Blachernae. It is a celebration of an event that refers to our Panagia and refers to a garment of hers that was her "overcoat".

According to the author of the synaxarion of the day, two patricians, Galbios and Kandidos, during the reign of Emperor Leo the Great, as they were traveling to Jerusalem to worship in the Holy Land, upon arriving in Galatia, came across a most-pious Hebrew woman, who had in her home the holy Robe, namely the overcoat of the Panagia. This woman prayed day and night in imitation of the Prophetess Anna who was in the Temple and found worthy to see Christ, when He was brought by the Panagia forty days after His birth.

The two Patricians, after some trickery, managed to obtain this precious treasure and brought it to Constantinople, where they placed it in their building, which was called Blachernae, and there they built the Church of the Apostles Peter and Mark. Later Emperor Leo the Great, when he found out about this, built the Church of our Lady the Theotokos, in which he placed the case that contained the honorable Robe, which Christians venerated and beheld various miracles. The sacred hymnographer calls the holy Robe "a sacred garment, an inviolate safeguard (of Constantinople), an honorable gift, a wealth of healing that cannot be taken away, a river full of the graces of the Spirit."

On the occasion of the Deposition of the Honorable Robe of the Panagia, our Church recalls the great person of the Panagia, who became the joy of the universe, because she was the person through whom Christ came into the world, Who freed the human race from sin, the devil and death. All the hymns of the Church, beginning with the honorable Robe, are hymns to the person of the Panagia.

The apolytikion of the feast refers to the Panagia, where among other things it says: "In you nature and time are renewed." This means that nature and time, which often afflicts people, acquire another meaning, are transcended by the Grace of God. In the Panagia, with the Holy Spirit, her virginity was preserved, becoming a mother without losing her virginity, and she remains alive throughout the ages, since according to tradition her body was transferred to heaven.

However in today's feast we see that the Grace of God which sanctified the body of the Panagia passed on to the garments she wore. Indeed, according to Orthodox teaching, divine Grace through the soul passes onto the body and from their proceeds to clothes and in general to irrational creation. In this we are not idolaters and worshipers of creation, but we honor the material that contains the sanctifying energy of God. Thus the faithful, according to the sacred hymnographer, embrace with faith the holy Robe of the Panagia and receive the Grace of God that dwells in it.

On the occasion of today's feast we must pray that our Panagia place us under her holy Robe, her sanctified overcoat, and to protect us from all evil.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.