The rite of the Fast and Feasts of the Virgin Mary.
Introduction & Rite
The fast of the Virgin Saint Mary, which is 15 days long, begins on the first day of the Coptic month of Mesori. It ends on the sixteenth day of the month, when the Coptic Church celebrates the assumption of the body of the Virgin that was carried by the angels. This fast is one of the most beloved fasts by the lay people, to the extent that one can claim that the lay people enforced the fast on the church, being that it never recognized as an official fast prior to the thirteenth century, during which we find the first official written evidence of the fast in the book of the Sheikh Al-Mo’taman Abu Al-Makarem Sa’ad Allah bin Girgis bin Mas’ood. It is known that Abu Al-Makarem died in 1209 A.D., which means that the fast took its official position in the church around the thirteenth century, and the church recognized it as belonging to the fourth-level fasts, after the theological fasts. However, the lay-people’s love of this fast caused them to treat it as one of the first-level fasts, as a result of the people’s love for the Mother of God Saint Mary.
As for the feasts of the Virgin, they are: The Feast of the Annunciation of her Birth on 7 Mesori; the Feast of the Birth of the Mother of Light on 1 Pashons; the Feast of the Virgin’s Entry into the Temple on 3 Kiahk; the Feast of her Departure on 21 Tobe; the Feast of her Revealed Assumption on 16 Mesori; the Feast of Consecrating the First Church under her Name in Philipi on 21 Paona; and the Feast of the Transfiguration of the Virgin on her Church in Zeitoun on 24 Paramhotep. In addition, the Coptic Church celebrates and commemorates the Virgin on the twenty-first day of every Coptic month. The rite is the same throughout all the feasts and on the twenty-first day of every Coptic month.
May the blessings of these days be with us all. Amen.
Mikhail, Deacon Albair Gamal, The Essentials in the Deacon’s Service, (Shobra, Egypt: Shikolani, 2002), p. 817. Translated from Arabic by Bishoy K. R. Dawood, edited by Michael Guirguis.