The Belt (Girdle) of the Blessed Virgin Mary, today divided into three pieces, is the only remaining relic of her earthly life. According to tradition, the belt was made out of camel hair by the Virgin Mary herself, and at her Assumption, she gave it to the Apostle Thomas. According to Tradition, the Apostle Thomas was the only apostle absent at the Assumption of the Mother of God. He was grieved to learn of this, but suddenly found himself witnessing the Virgin’s ascent to Heaven. He pleaded with her to give him a blessing; she untied her belt and gave it to him.
During the time of the early Church, when Christians were persecuted, St Mary’s possessions were kept hidden and secret. Her belt was the first item to be discovered in Jerusalem in the fifth century. This discovery is the basis for one of the eight feast days in the Armenian liturgical calendar devoted to the Holy Mother.
During the early centuries of the Christian era it was kept at Jerusalem and in the 4th century we hear of it at Zela in Cappadocia. In the same century, Theodosius the Great brought it back to Jerusalem, and from there his son Arcadius took it to Constantinople. There it was originally deposited in the Chalcoprateion church, whence it was transferred by the Emperor Leo to the Vlachernae church (458). During the reign of Leo VI ‘the Wise’ (886-912), it was taken to the Palace, where it cured his sick wife, the Empress Zoe.
The Empress had a vision that she would be healed of her infirmity if the Belt of the Mother of God were placed upon her. The Emperor then asked the Patriarch to open the coffer. The Patriarch removed the seal and opened the coffer in which the relic was kept and the Belt of the Mother of God appeared completely whole and undamaged by time. The Patriarch placed the Belt on the sick Empress, and immediately she was freed from her infirmity. They sang hymns of thanksgiving to the Most Holy Theotokos, then they placed the venerable Belt back into the coffer and resealed it. The Empress, as an act of thanksgiving to the Mother of God, embroidered the whole girdle with gold thread, giving it the appearance which it bears today.
Parts of the Holy Belt are in the Vatopedi Monastery on Mount Athos, in Trier Monastery and in Georgia.
The Armenian Church celebrates the Discovery of the Belt of Theotokos on the second Sunday after Assumption.