Posted by: Fr Chris | February 4, 2011

Under Your Protection

We are in the Octave of the Feast of the Encounter, or Presentation, of Our Lord (Feb 2). This is the commemoration of when Mary and St Joseph come to the Temple on the 40th day after the birth of Jesus to give thanks and to ‘redeem’ Him as the first-born male. They meet the prophet Simeon and the prophetess Anna. These two saints cry out in joy and tell all the anawim, God’s little ones, praying in the Temple, about this infant-redeemer.

As part of this octave, and in light of the tragedy gripping Egypt, I thought that you might like to read about the oldest Marian prayer, dating to the time of the Decian  persecution, and preserved for us on a papyrus from Egypt. This “Under Your Protection” is used in the Roman and Byzantine services.


Under your
we take refuge,
Mother of God! Our
prayers, do not despise
in necessities,
but from the danger
deliver us,
only pure,
only blessed.

In my book, The Forgotten: Catholics in the Soviet  Empire,  I recount the dramatic moment when the leading Catholic clergy of the city of Petrograd/ Leningrad/ St Petersburg lean out of the windows and doorways of the train taking them to Moscow to stand trial in 1923. Thousands of Catholics packed the platforms on that freezing day to sing this prayer, asking for Mary’s intercession.  The Trial resulted in prison sentences for all, except Msgr. Constantine  Budkiewicz who was executed on Holy Saturday night, March 31, 1923. It is a testimony to the power of this prayer that an enormous crowd of  Poles, Lithuanians, Russians and foreigners spontaneously broke out into this very ancient hymn.

This link has the history of this important prayer, and also  Bortniansky’s lovely setting of this prayer in the Russian chant:

plus postings on the Presentation and the theme of Candlemas.

Mother of God who  sojourned in Egypt with your most pure spouse Joseph and the Infant-King Jesus, pray for that nation and its deliverance and healing, and the safety of its Christians.



  1. Thanks for printing this information- your book seems like a very interesting read!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: