Question: What is "Pokrov"? (Holy Protection of the Blessed Virgin)
Answer: It is universally acknowledged that when, while hanging on the Cross, our Lord entrusted His holy Mother to the care Saint John the Apostle, and He also entrusted not only Saint John but the entire human race to the care of His Blessed Mother. Her care is, or course, primarily spiritual, but occasionally extends to the material and physical needs of her children. Occasionally it includes the "Holy Protection" of entire cities and peoples from those who would extinguish the holy religion of her divine Son. Her motherly intercession is commemorated by the Church on several feast days, two of which fall in October.
"In 911 A.D. the Mohammedan hordes attacked Constantinople during the reign of Emperor Leo the Wise. The terror-stricken people gathered within the church to pray to the Blessed Virgin. The Mother of God saved them from utter destruction and captivity. St. Andrew and his disciple, St. Theophanius, both from Ukraine, were in Constantinople at that time. They entered the church of the Holy Wisdom where the people were praying all night while the Christian army fought against the attacking Saracens. At dawn St. Andrew and St. Theophanius saw the Blessed Virgin appearing with outstretched arms and imploring God's mercy upon the besieged Christians. She held a veil (omophor) over the attacked city as a sign of assured protection. To the great joy of the inhabitants the Christian soldiers were blessed with a striking victory over the Moslems. On their return home the two saints publicized the miracle among [their] people. Thus the feast of "Pokrova" (patronage) of the Blessed Virgin was introduced into the Church to denote Mary's protection over our people." Relatively shortly thereafter, Ukraine and Russia became officially Christian nations. Pokrova is observed on October 14th.
"Soliman II, the greatest of the Sultans, taking advantage of the confusion caused in the west by Luther, had filled the sixteenth century with terror by his exploits. He left his son, Selim II, the prospect of being able at length to carry out the ambition of his race; the subjugation of Rome and Vienna, the Pope, and the Emperor to the power of the crescent. The Turkish fleet had already mastered the greater part of the Mediterranean, and was threatening Italy, when, on October 7, 1571, it came into action in the Gulf of Lepanto, with the pontifical galleys supported by the fleets of Spain and Venice. It was Sunday; throughout the world the confraternities of the Rosary were engaged in their work of intercession. Supernaturally enlightened, Saint Pius V watched from the Vatican the battle undertaken by the leader he had chosen, Don Juan of Austria, against the three hundred vessels of Islam. The illustrious Pontiff, whose life's work was now completed, did not survive to celebrate the anniversary of this triumph; but he perpetuated the memory of it by a commemoration of our Lady of Victory. His successor, Gregory XIII, altered this title to Our Lady of the Rosary and appointed the first Sunday of October for the new feast, authorizing its celebration in those churches which possessed an altar under that invocation. A century and a half later this limited concession was made general. As Innocent XI, in memory of the deliverance of Vienna by Sobieski, had extended the feast of the Most Holy Name of Mary [September 12] to the whole Church; so, in 1716, Clement XI inscribed the feast of the Rosary on the universal calendar, in gratitude for the victory gained by Prince Eugene at Peterwardein, on August 5, under the auspices of Our Lady of the Snow. This victory was followed by the raising of the siege of Corfu, and completed a year later by the taking of Belgrade."
Today Islamic persecution of Christians continues in the world. Far worse, Christianity and Christendom are in a state of almost complete disarray. Formerly Christian nations have been made indifferent to God, His Commandments, and His Church; "ecumenism" is the order of the day. Instead of the Universal Church, we have a World Order urging religious "tolerance," universal disarmament, and the abdication of personal, state, and national sovereignty in favor of rapidly expanding regional and even global government. Political corruption that would have brought swift execution in former years is shrugged off as the "normal" and irremediable state of things.
Earlier, we mentioned two of our Blessed Mother's interventions in the affairs of peoples and nations; many similar miracles could be recounted. In virtually all of the accounts there are two factors. The first is heartfelt and unrelenting prayer. No nation has ever been saved or converted by people carrying tokens in their pockets or worn about their necks; nor by prayers rattled off in the manner of a Tibetan prayer wheel. Our Lord and Lady will be moved by charity, sincerity, and compunction of heart; not by statistics or rote. A Rosary said with devotion and real meditation on the lives of Jesus and Mary is worth more than a thousand uttered by habit. If we ask for their Holy Protection from the evils that have enslaved the world, our prayers must be sincere.
The second common thread in all of our Lady's interventions into human affairs is the willingness of men to do their part. The "hordes" are not chased away by divine intervention alone. Rarely, if ever, do we hear about legions of angels fighting the battles of men. The soldiers of Leo the Wise of Constantinople, and of Don Juan of Austria were well trained troops, many of whom gave their lives so that Christendom could continue to flourish on this earth. The same must be true of all who ask God to change situations over which they, themselves, have some control. Our Lord and Lady wait, willing to help us overcome our problems. But we must take the first steps. God does not work by magic -- if we ask for protection from evil, and for the conversion of people and families and nations, there must be a flourishing Catholicism for them to convert to.
1. Michael Schudio, CSSR, My Divine Friend [Ukrainian Rite hand missal]
(Yorktown, Saskatchewan, Canada: 1959), Feast of Pokrova, October 14th, p.
2. Dom Guéranger OSB, The Liturgical Year, First Sunday of October,
1. Michael Schudio, CSSR, My Divine Friend [Ukrainian Rite hand missal] (Yorktown, Saskatchewan, Canada: 1959), Feast of Pokrova, October 14th, p. 521-522.
2. Dom Guéranger OSB, The Liturgical Year, First Sunday of October,
Personal Entrustment to the
Most holy Virgin Immaculate, my Mother Mary, to thee who art the Mother of my Lord, the Queen of the universe, the advocate, the hope, the refuge of sinners, I who am the most miserable of all sinners have recourse to thee this day. I venerate thee great Queen and thank thee for the many graces thou hast bestowed upon me even unto this day; in particular for having delivered me from the hell which I have so often deserved by my sins. I love thee most dear Lady, and for the love I bear thee, I promise to serve thee willingly for ever and to do what I can to make thee loved by others also. I place in thee all my hopes of salvation; accept me as thy servant and shelter me under thy mantle, thou who art the Mother of mercy. And since thou art so powerful with God, deliver me from all temptations, or at least obtain for me the strength to overcome them until death. From thee I implore a true love for Jesus Christ. Through thee I hope to die a holy death. My dear Mother, by the love thou bearest to Almighty God, I pray thee to assist me always, but most of all at the last moment of my life. Forsake me not then until thou shalt see me safe in heaven, there to bless thee and sing of thy mercies through all eternity. Such is my hope. Amen.