Speaking of the spread of the celebration of Christmas, St John Chrysostom says: ‘As beautiful and prolific fruit-trees, when planted in the earth, quickly attain a great height and ripen and bear fruit; so with this day.’ So also with the day of the Presentation of the Lord. This day was commemorated among Christians from the beginning, but its solemn celebration began in the time of the great Emperor Justinian. At that time, Constantinople and its surroundings were struck by an epidemic, with five thousand or more people dying every day. At the same time there was a terrible earthquake in Antioch. Seeing the powerlessness of men to avert these catastrophes, the Emperor and the Patriarch together decided to call for fasting and prayer throughout the whole empire. On the day of the Presentation itself, they arranged processions through the towns and villages to implore the Lord to have mercy on His people. And the Lord did have mercy, the epidemic and the earthquake ceasing instantly. This happened in the year 544. As a result, the Presentation came to be celebrated as a great feast of the Lord. Trees sprout at this time and begin the process of bringing forth their abundant fruit.
– From The Prologue from Ochrid: Lives of the Saints and Homilies For Every Day In The Year- Part One: January, February, March by Saint Nikolai Velimirovich, Translated by Mother Maria, Birmingham, UK, Lazarica Press, 1985.
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