Monday, August 20, 2012

The Virgin's Fast - BY HH Pope Shenouda III

By HH Pope Shenouda III

The Church celebrates the fast of our Lady the Virgin beginning with the first of Mesra, (the 7th of August). It is a fast for which people care very much, and they practice it with forceful ascetism Some add days to it, in regard of the great love of people for The Virgin.

The fast of The Virgin is an occasion for spiritual renaissance in the majority of churches.
They prepare a spiritual program for daily sermons, and daily masses too in some churches, even the churches which are not named by the name of The Virgin.

There is a great feast for our Lady The Virgin, which is celebrated in her ancient church in Mostorod.

Feasts of other saints are also celebrated in these days: 
The feast of saint Georges at the monastery in Mit Damsis, is celebrated in the second half of August, and also the feast of saint Abba Macarius the Great, and the feast of saint Georges in his monastery at Ruzeykat.

In the same fast of The Virgin, we celebrate the feasts of reknown she saints: like saint Baïssa (2 Misra, 8 August), saint Julita (6 Misra, 12 August), saint Marina (15 Misra, 21 August).  In the fast of The Virgin, we also celebrate the feast of the glorious Transfiguration (13 Misra, 19 August).
In the same month (7 Misra, 13 August), we celebrate the feast of the announcement, by the angel Gabriel to Joachim, of the birth of The Virgin Mary.

The feast of The Virgin is not the only occasion on which the Church celebrates the feasts of The Virgin, but more is celebrated in the month of Kiahk which is full of hymns, doxologies, and psalms for the saint Virgin Mary.

Copts in Egypt, and specially women, take care for the fast of The Virgin, in a manner that exceeds description. There are many who fast it (with water and salt), that is without oil........Many add a third week to it, as a kind of vow. There are also those who vow to fast this fast without eating or drinking till the appearance of the stars in heaven........

What then is the secret behind this care?
First: The love of Copts for The Virgin who had visited and blessed their country, and left her traces in numerous places where churches have been built.

Second: The multiple miracles which happened in Egypt through the intercession of our Lady The Virgin, made many people optimistic to build churches dedicated to her name.
The apparition of The Virgin in her church at Zeitoun, and the many miracles that accompanied this apparition, have certainly increased the affection of the Copts for The Virgin, and for the fast which bears her name.


Each saint has one feast in the Church, that is the day of his death or his martyrdom; and may be another one that is the finding of his remnants, or a miracle which happened relatively to his name, or the building of a church for him. But The Holy Virgin has a very great number of feasts.

Of them, there are:
1. The feast of the announcement of her nativity:
It is on the 7th of Misra, when the angel of the Lord announced her father Joachim of her birth. He and her mother Anna were then joyful, and they vowed her for the Lord.

2. The feast of her nativity:

The Church celebrates it on the first of Bashans.

3. The feast of her entry to the Temple:

The Church celebrates it on the 3rd of Kiahk. It is the day when she entered the Temple to adore God in the special house for the virgins.

4. The feast of her coming to Egypt:
She was with the Christ our Lord, and Joseph the carpentar. The Church celebrates it on the 24th of Bashans

5. The feast of the death of The Virgin:
It is on the 21st of Tubah. The Church also commemorates in it the miracles which were accomplished in that day, when the fathers apostles were surrounding her, with the exception of saint Thomas who was then preaching in India.

6. The monthly feast of the Virgin:

It is on the 21st of every coptic month, in commemoration of her death on the 21st of Tubah.

7. The feast of the ascent of her body to heaven:
The Church celebrates it on the 16th of Misra, the 22nd of August, which is preceded by the Fast of The Virgin (15 days).

8. The feast of her miracle: (the disssolution of iron):

It is on the 21st of Baouna. In it we commemorate her miracle in delivering the apostle saint Matthias and those who were with him from prison, by dissolving the iron which bounded them. In that day also we celebrate the feast of the building of the first church on her name in Philippi.
All these feasts have special hymns and doxologies in the rites of the Church, which contain many prophecies and special symbols from the Old Testament, concerning her.

9. The feast of her apparition in Zeitoun 

On the domes of the church of The Virgin. It was on the 2nd of April 1968, the 24th of Baramhat, and it remained during years. In addition to all that, we celebrate during all the month of Kiahk, (from December until the 7th of January), with hymns which are all about the honor of our Lady The Virgin.


May the blessings of The Virgin Mary be with us all, Amen. 

By HH Pope Shenouda III


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