October 28, 2022

Homily Four on the Holy Protection of the Most Holy Theotokos (St. Luke of Simferopol)

 By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

(Delivered in 1958)

Many times the Most Holy Theotokos appeared to a separate great saint, usually accompanied by one or two apostles of Christ, and she appeared to Saint Seraphim of Sarov alone. But she never appeared to anyone in such glory as in the Blachernae Church in Constantinople, on this great feast, named after her Protection.

There were many people in the temple, and among them were blessed Andrew, a holy fool for Christ's sake, with his disciple Epiphanios.

There was an all-night vigil. The people fervently prayed for deliverance from the invasion of the barbarians, who had already approached Constantinople itself.

At about four o'clock in the morning, blessed Andrew suddenly saw the Most Holy Theotokos standing on the clouds under the vaults of the temple, surrounded by a host of angels, apostles, prophets, righteous and many great saints.

Blessed Andrew asked Epiphanios: “Do you see the Lady and Queen of the World?”

“I see, my spiritual father, and I am horrified,” Epiphanios answered.

Before the eyes of both of them, the Most Holy Theotokos descended, entered the altar and prayed to God for a long time, kneeling before the throne. Then she got up, went out to the pulpit, and, having removed from herself a large veil that shone with heavenly light and flashed with lightning, she spread it over all the praying people.

With this, the miraculous vision of Andrew and Epiphanios suddenly ended.

In the morning it became known to everyone that at dawn the barbarians lifted the siege of Constantinople and left.

I think that you all understand how great is the difference between this glorious and miraculous appearance of the Protection of the Most Holy Theotokos and her numerous appearances to an individual great saint with one or two apostles, or even alone.

I want to deepen your attention and focus it on those very important features that distinguish her miraculous appearance in the Blachernae Church on the great day of her Protection.

Of course, there is a great difference between what we believe only by hearsay or according to written reports and what human eyes see.

True, even in the Blachernae Church, the miraculous vision of the Protection of the Most Holy Theotokos was not seen by all those praying, but only Andrew, the holy fool for Christ's sake and his disciple Epiphanios, but the testimony of the blessed holy fool for Christ, who fulfilled to a great extent the first commandment of the beatitudes about spiritual poverty, is quite convincing for us, for such a great saint, of course, could not lie or invent a fable, and we can believe his eyes as our own.

Let no one doubt what blessed Andrew and his disciple Epiphanios saw with human eyes.

Never again did the Most Holy Theotokos appear in such great glory, with a multitude of angels, apostles, prophets and saints. Such a huge and glorious retinue, which Andrew and Epiphanios saw, could only accompany the truly Most Holy of All Saints, and the significance of this divine testimony about her is enormous for us.

With our hearts we believe that the Most Holy Theotokos always prays for the Christian race and intercedes for us before her Divine Son, but blessed Andrew and Epiphanios were convinced of this with their human eyes when she came down from under the vaults of the temple into the altar and prayed for a long time, on her knees.

Let us remember that the Apostle Paul calls the devil the prince of the power of the air, and then, with great gratitude to her and her Divine Son, we will understand the meaning of her Veil, shining with the Divine light, spread over the heads of those who pray, with which she protected them from the prince of darkness and dark beings hovering low in the air, his angels, whom she struck with the lightning of her prayers, sparkling from her Veil.

You see, people of God, how great and holy is the significance of the feast of the Protection of the Most Holy Theotokos for us, how the vision of the blessed Andrew and Epiphanios strengthens our faith in her as the Zealous Intercessor of our world.

Let us love Her with all our hearts, as little children love their mother, and give great glory and honor to her Divine Son according to human flesh, our Lord and God Jesus Christ, with His Eternal and Beginningless Father and Holy Spirit. Amen.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.