There are two forms of the Paraklesis (Supplicatory Canon) to the Theotokos: the Small and the Great. The Small Paraklesis was composed in the 9th century, while the Great Paraklesis was written later in the 13th century. The Small Paraklesis may be chanted throughout the year, but the Great Paraklesis is specially chanted every other evening during the Dormition Fast (August 1-14), alternating with the Small Paraklesis.
Emperor Theodore II Laskaris of Nicaea is the poet and author of the Great Paraklesis. He struggled with the burdens of being an emperor in exile while also suffering physically from a severe form of epilepsy. He met the godly Empress Theodora of Nicaea when his daughter and the Empress’s son were betrothed and later married. Theodora’s piety and devotion to the Theotokos made a great impression on Theodore and inspired him to compose the Great Paraklesis.