January 30

marian calendar     january

Panagia Evangelistria, Tinos, Cyclades, South Aegean, Greece

In 1822, on the island of Tinos, a nun named Pelagia had visions of the Virgin telling her where to search for an icon, at the spot where a church should be built in her name. She told the priest, who convinced the inhabitants to start excavations, which finally uncovered an ancient icon of the Annunciation on January 30, 1823. It is believed by both devotees and scholars that the icon predates the Byzantine church destroyed by the Moslems in the 900s. Despite the harsh winter weather of the Aegean, the Church of Megalokhari (Great Joys) built to house the miraculous icon sees a great influx of pilgrims on this date every year, come to celebrate its finding. After an afternoon Eucharist, to the sound of all the bells on the island, community leaders carry the sacred image on a gold and silver pedestal through the city, which is decorated for a festival. After brief prayers on the seaside, the icon returns to its Marble Palace, where a requiem is said for the Sanctuary founders and for the repose of the souls of those whose sacrifices furthered its construction. Panagia Evangelistria, Our Lady of Good News,  is also honored here on March 25 (feast of the Annunciation), July 23 (anniversary of Pelagia's vision), and August 15 (feast of the Dormition). It is one of the holiest Orthodox shrines in Greece. Usually hidden behind a jeweled cover, the icon was unveiled on a Greek stamp issued in 1973 for the 150th anniversary of its finding (picture from "Tinos," Hellenica, www.mlahanas.de).


Where We Walked ~~~ Mary Ann Daly