The Feast of the Dormition of the Virgin Mary is one of the Twelve Great Feasts of the Orthodox Church and therefore one of the most celebrated feast days across the Orthodox World. It is remembered on August 15 and preceded by a fourteen day fast. Most people simply refer to it as August 15 or the Fifteen Days of August.
In Orthodox countries throughout the world, you can expect people to fill the churches in the morning and then celebrate into the night. Churches named for the Virgin Mary are particularly popular during the feast day.
But there will be silence on the Pontic Mountains range, in Trabzon, Turkey which houses the historic Panagia Soumela Monastery which has been closed for repairs since 2015.
The monastery dates back to the 4th century and is known as the site where St. Luke painted the miraculous icon of the Virgin Mary known as Panagia Soumela.
Panagia Soumela is the icon referenced in the service of the Small Paraklesis (Intercessory Prayer) to the Most Holy Theotokos every evening during the fast:
Speechless be the lips of impious ones,
Those who do not reverence
Your great icon, the sacred one
Which is called Directress,
And was depicted for us
By one of the apostles,
Luke the Evangelist.
According to Greek City Times, “The historic monastery held its first liturgy in June of 2010 after 88 years, with permission granted by the Turkish government at the time, with the Ecumenical Patriarch presiding over the liturgy in honour of the Virgin Mary in whose name the monastery was named.”
Due to current repairs at the monastery, His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew will offer services on other holy and historic sites in the area for the Feast of the Dormition on August 15 and for the Leavetaking of the Feast on August 23.
May the Virgin Mary protect us and be our constant intercessor to her Son and our Lord, Jesus Christ.