In 1480 Khan Ahmet advanced upon Moscow and arrived at the Ugra River in Kaluga region, while John III, Grand Duke of Moscow, was waiting on the other side. Suddenly a strong and unreasonable fear came upon the Tartars; Ahmet did not dare to fight the Russians and retreated to the steppe. In honor of this event, an annual Cross procession was instituted, from the Dormition Cathedral to Sretensky monastery. To this day, the Ugra River is called the “Cincture of Theotokos.”
In commemoration this week of this beloved feast of the Protection of the Vladimir Icon, I thought it meet and right to re-post this special article. I hope it blesses and inspires you.
Originally posted June 3, 2013 —
In my book, Facing Islam: What the Ancient Church has to say about the Religion of Muhammad, I devote a special frontispiece to the Meeting of the Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God (celebrated August 26), which commemorates the retreat from Moscow and Russia of the fierce Muslim warlord Timur (Tamerlane) and his armies on August 26, 1395, after he had a powerful dream and vision of "saintly hierarchs with golden staffs descending from a high mountain, and a radiant Lady in the air above them, surrounded by unspeakable rays of purest light. A countless multitude of Angels with fiery swords encircled Her."
As the below article describes, there have been many instances where the Virgin Mary, the Mother of God (Greek: Theotokos) has protected the Russian Orthodox people. Indeed, Her protection of the Byzantine faithful is also well attested.
Significantly, the Muslim Tartars never permanently conquered the Russian land, in spite of centuries of repeated assaults and brief occupations. Now, after withstanding and being pruned by seven decades of merciless persecution by the militant atheists, the Holy Russian Orthodox Church has been resurrected, and is once again preaching traditional, Orthodox Christianity throughout the world. This renewed flowering of the Russian Orthodox Church is a dramatic historical event, prophesied by saints from St. Seraphim of Sarov (†1833) to St. John of San Francisco & Shanghai (†1966).
Such intercessions and interventions as described below are a mystery of the Orthodox Christian Church, and should encourage and inspire Christians to greater faith, repentance, prayer, and hope in the ultimate victory of Christ our True God, which will be accomplished and fully revealed at His awesome Second Coming.
For my non-Orthodox readers and visitors, please don't be scandalized by these forms of piety which perhaps seem very foreign to you. For us, the heavenly realm is quite close, and the saints, those who have led God-pleasing lives and have been recognized by the Church as being true and reliable witnesses of the Life in Christ, live with Christ, and never cease to intercede for us who are still struggling through our earthly journey. Just as you would ask your family or friends, or members of your church, to pray for you, so we unhesitatingly ask the prayers of those who "have fought the good fight, have finished the race, and have kept the faith" (2 Tim. 4:7). The Virgin Mary, we believe, is unique among the saints, as she said "Yes" to God and bore the Son of God, Jesus, in her womb. We do not think of her as an intermediary between us and Christ (see 1 Tim. 2:5), but as a powerful intercessor, and as Mother of all the Faithful, whom Jesus mystically instructs us to take into the abode of our hearts (see Jn. 19:26-27). Here is a good article on the Orthodox understanding of the Virgin Mary.
THE VLADIMIR ICON OF THE MOTHER OF GOD
|The Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God|