Today the faithful celebrate the feast with joy illumined by your coming, O Mother of God.
Beholding your pure image we fervently cry to you: Encompass us beneath the precious veil of your protection; deliver us from every form of evil by entreating Christ, your Son and our God that He may save our souls.
This is a Byzantine hymn, known as a troparior, for the feast of the Protection of the Mother of God.
While the feast is celebrated by most Orthodox Christians on October 1st, Greece celebrates it today. This is because the feast became associated with thanksgiving for the deliverance of the Greek nation from Italian invasion of 1940, known as Ohi Day.
If, like myself, you’ve ever had the pleasure to attend Sunday Mass at Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris, you have probably heard these bells before. But you may spot a slight difference, as this is what the bells will sound like in 2012.
In 2012 the cathedral celebrates its 850th birthday. To mark this occasion four 19th century bells will be melted down and replaced by nine new ones, intended to recreate the sound of Notre-Dame’s original 17th century bells.
The decision has caused quite some controversy in France. Some consider the 19th century bells an indestructible part of French heritage and feel they should not be replaced. One musician has even written an open letter to pope Benedict XVI as a plea for the project to be abandoned.
In France and other Catholic countries there is an old tradition to pray one thousand Hail Marys on December 24. It is believed that a special favour will be granted in return.
While preparing the family meal for Christmas Eve mothers would recite their one thousand Hail Marys without fail, for they always had a small favour to ask Mary on behalf of one of their children or their husband.