The eminent figure of the Blessed Virgin Mary reigns supreme in the souls of the Orthodox faithful, in particular for the month of August, which is when the feast of her glorious Dormition occurs. This celebration, beginning on August 15th (the main feast day) is in honor of her ascent into the heavenly realm, next to the throne of Her Son and God, and comes to an end on August 23rd.
We Orthodox, in order to be strengthened in our spiritual struggle, and to receive the blessing of the feast of the Mother of God and of us all, fast for two weeks. During this fast before the main feast day, we seek to purify our hearts by coming to Church every day, and addressing supplicatory prayers to the Most Holy Theotokos. We do this with confidence that she, as a loving Mother, will help us in our current needs. We address our prayers and supplications to the Most Holy Virgin and beg her:
- “Deliver us from all dangers, O Theotokos, most pure ..” (Small Paraclesis, Intercessory Canon, Ode 5).
- “Heal me from the ills, O Most Pure One, which the passions bring, …
And unto me grant health, through your intercessions”. (Ode 5)
- “I lie now on a bed of infirmities, and there is no healing at all for my body… I pray to you, from corruption of sicknesses raise me”. (Ode 6)
- “Deliver us, all of your servants, from dangers, O Theotokos;
After God, we all flee to you, for shelter and covering, as an unshakable wall and our protection.”
At the same time, each of us expresses to our Most Holy Mother the certainty that:
- “The infirmities of my soul are healed by you. And the pains of my body, O Virgin, so I praise you, O Lady, in God's favour”. (Ode 8)
- “You drive away the assaults of temptations, and attacks of the passions, O Virgin”. (Ode 8)
From our own personal experience we note with gratitude:
- “No one is turned away from you, ashamed and empty, who flee unto you, O pure virgin Theotokos; But one asks for the favour, and the gift is received from you, To the advantage of their own request.”
Because of all the blessings of the Virgin Mary in the life of the faithful, they have given her many names:
- "Panagia Voithia" (the Helper)
- "Gorgoepikoos" (who quickly listens and assists). - "The Healer"
- "The Merciful"(full of mercy)
- "The Comforter"
- "The Consolation" (offers compassion to those who are struggling)
- "The Guide" (leads and directs on the right path)
- "The Rescuer" (saves from dangers)
- "Pausolypi" (relieves sadness)
- "The Liberator" (frees from enemies)
- "Benefactress" (benevolent)
- "All Joy" (gives joy to all believers)
It is a well-known fact that the miraculous holy Icons of Our Lady, including the holy Churches dedicated to Her Name, attract countless believers, especially during these days which are dedicated to the Holy Mother of God!
On the borders of the Holy Metropolis of Pisidia, Sede and Antalya, there are a large number of churches that were built many years ago in honor of the Most Holy Theotokos. It is typical that, in the centuries-old seat of the Metropolis of Pisidia and Sparta (today's Isparta), there were three Parishes (small Chapels not included) in honor of the Theotokos, two of which survive to this day. Also in Antalya, the so-called icon of the "Great Virgin Mary" in Kaleici has also been preserved. Additionally, other areas had many churches dedicated to the Mother of God.
The existence of these churches of the Virgin Mary in Pisidia and Pamphylia are undoubtedly connected to the two historical and miraculous Icons of the Mother of God. The oldest icon, Panagia Attaleiotissa is, according to tradition, one of the three icons painted by the Evangelist St. Luke, which is preserved to this day. The old inhabitants of Antalya call it "Kykkou Panagia" because the original Icon was transferred from Antalya, where it had been kept for centuries, to Cyprus and has been in the Holy Monastery of Kykkou since then. Another miraculous Icon of the Virgin Mary, known for its miracles dating back to the 6th century, was located in Sozopol, Pisidia (now the city of Uluborlu), hence it was given the name “Pisidiotissa”.
Let us all thank Our Most Holy Mother for everything she has given us, to this day, through her intercessions to the Almighty Lord. And let us not hesitate to turn to her holy protection with absolute confidence, during times of pain, sorrow, danger, need and difficulties. A prayer of our Church says: "For the entreaty of a mother has great power to win the favour of the Master”. Therefore, let us always conclude our prayers with the following meaningful hymn: "In you do I place all my hope, O Mother of God; keep me under your protection.” Amen.