The Placing of the Honorable Cincture of the Most Holy Theotokos in the Chalcopratian Church


According to an ancient Church tradition, when leaving this world in order to unite with Her Son and the Lord, the Most Holy Theotokos bequeathed two of Her garments to two poor Jewish women who served Her. They carefully preserved these relics, passed down from generation to generation. In the reign of Leo I, Christians Galvius and Candide received the robe of the Virgin, resorting to a pardonable trick, and put it in the Blachernae Church.1

The belt of the Virgin was found under unknown circumstances in the diocese of Zela, near Amasia in Pontus. Around 530, during the reign of Justinian, it was brought to Constantinople2 and laid in the Chalcopratian Church, located west of St. Sophia, in the quarter of the coppersmiths. On this day, the patronal feast and the memory of the finding of two precious relics stored there—the honorable Cincture of the Virgin and the Winding Sheets of Christ were celebrated in the Chalcopratian church.

Many years later (ca. 888), Zoe, the wife of Emperor Leo VI the Wise, became seriously ill due to the action of an unclean spirit. She had a dream in which it was revealed to her that she would be healed if the Cincture of the Virgin was placed on her. The emperor immediately ordered to break the seals on the shrine with the relic and was amazed to see the honest Cincture sparkling and clean, as if woven yesterday. There was a note next to it, in which the day of the Cincture’s transfer to Constantinople was named and it was told how the emperor himself put it in this shrine and sealed it with his own hand. Emperor Leo venerated the relic with reverence and handed it to the Patriarch. He placed the Cincture on the head of the Empress, and she was immediately cured of her illness. Everyone praised Christ the Savior and His Most Pure Mother. The grateful Empress embroidered the Belt with gold threads, and the holy relic was again placed in the shrine.

According to legend, the Bulgarian tsar Ivan Asen (1187–1196), having defeated the Emperor Isaac II Angelos (1190), captured a cross with a piece of the honorable Cincture embedded in it. This cross was thrown by a certain priest into the river so that he would not be desecrated. The shrine then came into the hands of the Serbs and was subsequently transferred by Prince Lazar (†1389) to the Mount Athos monastery of Vatopedi. There it is revered to this day. The holy relic exudes a sweet fragrance, and numerous miracles are wrought from it.

The honorable cincture, which touched the Most Pure Womb that bore the Creator, and was moistened with drops of milk that nourished Him Who is the Life of the world, is for all Christians a testimony of salvation. It literally tells us that it is necessary to bridle all the movements of the flesh and emulate the spiritual and bodily purity of the Blessed Virgin and Mother of God in order to be worthy to bear Christ in your heart, Who forever becomes a Babe for our sakes.

From the Synaxarion of the Lives of the Saints of the Orthodox Church, Sretensky Monastery.

Compiled by Hieromonk Macarios of Simonospetros
Translation from the Russian adaptation by


1 The feast of the Placing of the Honorable Cincture of the Most Holy Theotokos in the Chalcopratian Church is not to be confused with the feast of the Placing of the Honorable Robe, or Maforion, of the Theotokos in Blachernae (July 2 and October 1).

2 The data of hagiographic sources are very vague and contradictory. Here we present the version of the “Synaxarion of Constantinople”, confirmed by the “Imperial Menalogion (11th century). However, in the same text, as in the “Menalogion of Basil II”, it is further stated that the transfer of the relic took place under Arkadios, the son of Theodosius (395–408). On the other hand, it is known that the construction of the Chalcopratian Church was started by Pulcheria, and completed only under Leo I. Perhaps the church was destroyed by an earthquake and then rebuilt by Justin II (565–578), who made a great contribution to this church and built a chapel for the honorable Cincture. On April 12, the Synaxarion commemorates another transfer of the honest Cincture‑from Zela to Constantinople, but in the text it is attributed to the 11th century. This date is certainly erroneous, since the church hymns for this feast day, composed in the 7th century by St. Maximus the Confessor, as well as the homily of St. Germanos of Constantinople, relating to the next century, have been preserved. Some historians believe that at first there was only one feast in honor of the honorable Cincture and Robe, celebrated in Blachernae, and that the current feast appeared only in the 9th century. Be that as it may, the procession that took place every Friday from Blachernae to Chalcopratia indicates the connection between these two greatest Theotokian shrines of Constantinople.

See also
Behold Thy Mother Behold Thy Mother
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Behold Thy Mother Behold Thy Mother
Sermon on the Dormition of the Mother of God, Holy Dormition Pskov Caves Monastery, August 28, 2021
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Having adopted us, She has made her Son Jesus Christ our true, great and incomparable Lord and brother. This is how far-reaching were the Lord Jesus Christ’s brief words on the cross addressed to the Most Holy Theotokos and His disciples.
A Blessing on Our Families A Blessing on Our Families
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A Blessing on Our Families A Blessing on Our Families
Patriarchal sermon given on the feast of the Synaxis of the Most Holy Theotokos after Liturgy in the Dormition Cathedral of the Moscow Kremlin (January 8, 2020)
His Holiness Patriarch Kirill
Nowhere does a child learn goodness in the same way as he learns it by following the examples of his parents and loved ones. And today, remembering the large family of the Virgin Mary, we pray that modern families, large and even small, will be able to keep the Faith.
"Most Holy Mother of God, Save Us!" The Cincture of the Virgin Mary Comes to Russia
Nun Cornelia (Rees)
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Nun Cornelia (Rees)
"We have brought you this holy relic because we believe that its presence in your city will bring a great blessing and relief, much grace, protection, and strength. Venerating this Holy Cincture we feel that the Theotokos herself is in our midst, she is in the heart of each one of us."
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