Feast of the All-Merciful Savior and the Most Holy Theotokos

Augustin Sokolovski

On August 14, Orthodox Churches of the Julian calendar celebrate the feast of the All-Merciful Savior and the Most Holy Theotokos. The establishment of this holiday is due to the fact that it was on this day in 1164 that Prince Andrei Bogolyubsky defeated the Volga Bulgars in one of the battles of that time. In gratitude, an annual celebration was established.

The chronicles preserved references to the fact that it was on the day of the All-Merciful Savior that the Baptism of Rus' began under Prince Vladimir. However, in this case, it is important to remember that the Savior is, as it were, overshadowed by another celebration, since on the same day in the Orthodox Church on August 14, the Procession of the Holy Cross is remembered. The popular name of the holiday “Wet Savior” and the tradition of consecrating water on this day are associated with the remembrance of baptism.

In the notes to this holiday, in the church calendars, it is also said that in the same Constantinopolitan state, which by the XII century from the Empire had become just a country in the Balkans, won one of the victories over the Turks in the west of Asia Minor.

However, soon the Byzantine army still lost, and after 40 years the City of Constantinople fell under the blows of the Venetians. In 1204, the Latin dynasty began to rule on the Bosporus.

Just 10 years after the victory, Andrei Bogolyubsky himself was killed by the boyars. He suffered from his own, and not from the pagans or the persecutors of the faith. Therefore, in accordance with the Russian tradition of holiness, he became not a martyr, but a passion-bearer. The Church canonized Andrei as a saint for the personal piety of the ruler.

The described period in the history of the Church is called pre-Mongolian. Soon both Vladimir Rus' and Bulgaria on the Volga, as the future Tatarstan was then called, fell under the blows of the Mongols, and centuries later became subjects of a common state. The celebration in honor of the All-Merciful Savior and the Most Holy Theotokos has, as it were, lost its relevance. But precisely for this reason, from historical remembrance it has become an ideological and theological celebration.

This is a day of thanksgiving to Him who reconciles the peoples and has mercy on human history through the prayers of the Mother of God and all the saints. In this sense, the All-Merciful Savior is similar to another holiday characteristic of the Russian Orthodox tradition, the Protection, which remembers the blessings of the Theotokos. Surprisingly, exactly three months pass between them.

The Day of the All-Merciful Savior is a quiet celebration. It is like the birthday of a not very old person who has almost no relatives and friends left. Like the answer in Andrei Platonov's fairy tale about a flower, who, when asked - "what is your name, flower?" replied: “Me? Nobody calls me by name, I live alone”. This day, which has become just a lonely holiday, in some sad oblivion is dedicated “simply” to the Mercy of Christ.