Remember Ochi Day
Today is Ochi Day.
Ochi is the Greek word for “No”.
Seventy-one years ago today, the Greeks said “No”.
October 28th marks the 71st anniversary of a little known event that changed the course of world history. If you don’t believe me, read on.
Backwater, forlorn, near-bankrupt Greece — with a handful of rickety airplanes, a navy that was barely afloat and a hodgepodge military that hadn’t yet recovered from a decimating defeat in a war with Turkey — was faced with an ultimatum by Benito Mussolini to surrender to the Axis Powers. It was October 28, 1940….
The Greeks — in what would become the single defining moment in the nation’s modern history — said no to Mussolini. The Italians invaded — with the military might second only to that of Nazi Germany. Hundreds of invading aircraft attacked and thousands of Italian troops poured across the border within moments of the telegram reaching the Italian formations. “The Greeks said no!”
The outcome — Greece pushed the Italians back, defending their homeland from the Axis Powers. It was a time in Europe when one nation after another had fallen. The mood in Europe was one of doom. The sentiment in the United States was the same. The Nazi epidemic was spreading.
Today is also, in the Western Church, the Feast of the Apostles St Simon and St Jude (In the Orthodox Church St Simon is commemorated on 10 May, and St Jude on 19 June). Also, in the Western Church, St Jude is known as the patron saint of lost causes and desperate situations. And if ever there was a desperate situation and a lost cause, it was that of the Greeks facing the Fascist army.
The Fascists said, “Surrender!”
And the Greeks said “No!”
Kontakion – Tone 2
You were chosen as a disciple for your firmness of mind:
An unshakable pillar of the Church of Christ,
You proclaimed His word to the Gentiles,
Telling them to believe in one Godhead.
You were glorified by Him, receiving the grace of healing,
Healing the ills of all who came to you,
O most praised Apostle Jude!
The Primary Chronicle of St Nestor reflects that the protective intercession of the Mother of God was needed because an attack of a large pagan Russian fleet under the leadership of Askole and Dir. The feast celebrates the divine destruction of the fleet which threatened Constantinople itself, sometime in the years 864-867 or according to the Russian historian Vasiliev, on June 18, 860. Ironically, this Feast is considered important by the Slavic Churches but not by the Greeks.
And that too seems appropriate for Ochi Day.
Troparion – Tone 4
Today the faithful celebrate the feast with joy
illumined by your coming, O Mother of God.
Beholding your pure image we fervently cry to you:
“Encompass us beneath the precious veil of your protection;
deliver us from every form of evil by entreating Christ,
your Son and our God that He may save our souls.”
Kontakion – Tone 3
Today the Virgin stands in the midst of the Church
and with choirs of saints she invisibly prays to God for us.
Angels and bishops worship,
apostles and prophets rejoice together,
since for our sake she prays to the pre-eternal God.