On Sunday 1 October at Sint Kwinten, the Ukrainian Catholic community of Leuven celebrated the Feast of the Protection of the Most Holy Mother of God. At noon, Fr. Mykola Paliuh presided at the Divine Liturgy, which was followed on the church grounds by a lunch with Ukrainian specialties. After lunch there was a film about the war in Ukraine and a quiz. There was an opportunity to meet and exchange views.
This feast has been celebrated by Byzantine-Rite Churches for more than a thousand years. In 911 AD, Constantinople, the capital of the then Byzantine Empire, was under military threat, and the people prayed for God’s help at the Blachernae Church in a suburb of the city. According to tradition, the Mother of God appeared, approached the center of the church, knelt down and prayed, with her face covered with tears. Then she stood up, took off her veil and spread it over the people as a sign of protection. After her appearance, the danger of barbarian invasion was averted, and the city was spared from bloodshed and suffering.