THE MOST VENERABLE Sash of our Blessed Virgin Mary, which is found at the Holy Great Monastery of Vatopedi in Agios Oros (Holy Mt. Athos), is the only precious souvenir that survives from her earthly life.
According to the Sacred Tradition and the history of our Church, the Most Holy Theotokos three days after she fell asleep she rose from the dead and ascended in body to the heavens. During her ascension, she gave her Holy Sash to the Apostle Thomas. Thomas, along with the rest of the holy Apostles, opened up her grave and didn’t find the body of the Theotokos. In this way the Holy Sash is proof for our Church of her Resurrection and bodily ascension to the heavens, and, in a word, at her metastasis.
The Holy Sash (Belt), according to the tradition, was made by the Blessed Virgin Mary herself with camel hair. The Empress Zoi, wife of Leo 6th the Wise, out of gratitude for her miraculous cure, embroidered the Sash with gold thread, as it is found today, but divided in three pieces. Originally it was being kept in Jerusalem and later in Constantinople. There during the 12th century under Manuel A. Komninos (1143-1180) an official holiday for the Sash was established on August 31st. In the end, Emperor John the 6th Katakouzinos (1347-1355), who had a special love toward the Holy Great Monastery of Vatopedi, as is evidence by many related accounts, donated the Sash to the Monastery. Since then the Holy Sash is kept at the Holy Monastery of Vatopedi, in a silver case of newer manufacture which depicts the Monastery. On the bottom right border of the depiction the artist made the drawing of the donor Emperor Katakouzinos along with a sign which refers to his donation to the Monastery.
Numerous are the miracles, that have taken place up to today with the Holy Sash. Its value is priceless because it’s associated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. She has the grace and to her the miraculous power is attributed, which with many ways she transmits to the faithful.
The Holy Sash maintains unaltered the grace of the Most Holy Theotokos, because it became connected with her person and her life and because saints are spirit carriers during not their life, but also after their death. The same phenomenon is mentioned in the Holy Scriptures when objects that the Prophet Elias and the holy Apostles wore actually performed miracles, because they had the grace of the saints. For this reason the Church attributes it honorary worship, as it does to the Holy Wood of the Cross of the Lord.
The Holy Belt has the unique grace to cure women’s sterility as well as cancer patients, with a ribbon that has firstly been blessed on the Belt and is subsequently worn by the sterile women and patients.