By Matushka Constantina
Today we commemorate the holy belt of the Theotokos – the only surviving relic of the Virgin Mary. According to Tradition, the Apostle Thomas was the only apostle absent at the dormition of the Mother of God. He was grieved to learn of this, but suddenly found himself witnessing the Virgin’s ascent to Heaven. He pleaded with her to give him a blessing; she untied her belt – made of camel skins – and gave it to him. This belt is the only existing relic of the Virgin Mary. Its only known remaining piece is housed at the Holy Monastery of Vatopedi on Mount Athos. The Orthodox Church celebrates the Holy Belt of the Theotokos on August 31. As a blessing, the Fathers lay pieces of cord or rope across the relic and give them out to the faithful to wear around their waist, particularly women who desire to conceive. I used to have one, but I gave it to a friend. I’ll have to try and get another one before we leave Greece.
Here is an example of a few of the many miracles that our Holy Mother works through her holy belt. I’ve translated it from Pemptousia’s website (Greek articles: http://www.pemptousia.gr/2012/06/thavmata-agias-zonis-meros-26o/):
Testimonial to the Miracle of the Holy Sash of the Virgin Mary -December 21, 2008
A few days ago I received a blessing – a rope blessed on the Holy Belt of the Virgin Mary. The girl who used it became pregnant despite all the problems that existed; it was the miracle of miracles. She did a [kind of] therapy for 6 months in which time she could not take medication so as to cleanse the body, and since she was trying, for 3 of those months, to get pregnant she avoided drugs for this purpose as well. As a consequence she had great pain all over her body because of her disease.
The last day of her therapy was 1 December 2008; she planned to resume her medication the next day. On the evening of November 30 she took a pregnancy test and the result was positive. Of course you can understand the joy and happiness of us all. Once again, the Virgin Mary had helped.
In April of 2003 we visited your monastery and got two more ropes which were blessed on the holy belt of the Virgin Mary. One of which I gave to a colleague. Her sister, who lived in Germany, had tried for years to have children and could not. She had spent large amounts of money trying to do so. The other I gave to a colleague of my mother (a teacher) who was also trying for many years but unfortunately could not have children.
After I gave away the “belts” I felt confident about the outcome. However I was careless and didn’t ask [any follow-up questions].
One year or so passed and suddenly on our way to work my colleague tells me that she planned on taking a vacation in order to go and see her niece. I asked if this was her sister in Germany who had given birth, and it turned out after so many years of effort her sister had finally had a child.
That afternoon I told myself I must ask my mother what happened with her colleague. Her colleague, who after so many years of sorrow, also gave birth, thanks to the grace of the holy belt.
I thanked the Virgin Mary, who helps so many every day. We sought her help once more and like an affectionate mother, she ran to help.
– Evangelos Nanos