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The Assumption or "Summer Easter": 10 Greek churches which celebrate it

15 August 2013 / 00:08:49  GRReporter
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The Assumption is one of the greatest feasts of the Orthodox Church and one of the official holidays in Greece. It is celebrated with special solemnity and is even called "Summer Easter" because it is the greatest celebration in the summer, the preparation for which starts on 1 August with fasting which continues until August 15.

A variety of customs and traditions are celebrated in towns and villages, on islands and in monasteries and each town or village can tell its story about its patroness the Virgin Mary.

Hundreds of names have been given to the Virgin Mary, depending on how the icon had been painted, on its age, how it had been discovered, etc.

Almost every Greek house celebrates the name day of Maria, Despina, Marios, Panagiotis. This is an occasion for the expression of religious worship but it is also a purely Greek folk feast with dances, songs, selected appetizers and lots of wine.

Three of all the churches in Greece are considered as the most popular places for believers, namely the church of Panagia Evangelistria of Tinos (Our Lady of Tinos), the church of Panagia Ekatontapiliani (Our Lady of the Hundred Gates) on the Island of Paros and the Monastery of Panagia Soumela, Vermio Mountains.

Island Greece

There are large and small churches dedicated to the Mother of God on many islands in the Aegean and Ionian Seas where great feasts mark the "Summer Easter" every year.

The Island of Tinos – the Church of Panagia Evangelistria (Our Lady of Tinos)

The Church of Panagia Evangelistria (, also known as Our Lady of Tinos, is one of the most important orthodox shrines of pilgrimage, not only in Greece but also throughout the world. It was built on the site where, according to the legend, the icon of the Virgin Mary was found in 1823 after the visions of nun Pelagia.

On the eve of the Assumption, the residents dress the island in festive decoration and many believers come to seek comfort, strength and support from the Virgin Mary. During the celebrations, the solemn liturgy is followed by an impressive procession in the streets of the city. The celebrations continue until 23 August. On the same day, Tinos marks the sinking of warship "Eli" in 1940 which was berthed in the port.

The Island of Paros – the Church of Ekatontapiliani (Our Lady of the Hundred Gates)

The Church of Ekatontapiliani is located in the main town on the Island of Paros, which is Parikia. It is one of the most important and best preserved Christian monuments in Greece and, certainly, the largest. Its name originates from a legend according to which its 99 gates are visible and the last one, the 100th, will appear with the opening of the secret gate in the Hagia Sophia.

The Assumption here is celebrated with great solemnity and in the afternoon on 15 August, the guests of Parikia participate in the procession with the icon of the Virgin Mary and epitaph. The culmination of the celebrations is in the evening when there are spectacular fireworks, folk songs and dances.

The Island of Kefalonia – Panagia Fidoussa (Our Lady of the Snakes)

Every year the snakes of the Virgin Mary attract near the village of Markopoulo in the southern part of the Island of Kefalonia in the Ionian Sea thousands of believers who see with their own eyes a unique phenomenon, namely the appearance of harmless snakes in the church every year on 15 August. According to the legend, nuns of an ancient monastery in the area had asked the Mother of God to transform them into snakes in order for them to avoid falling into the hands of pirates.
During the evening prayer, the snakes crawl freely among the believers without fear and without bothering anyone and leave the church after 15 August.

The Island of Karpathos - Our Lady of Olympos

Many people visit the Island of Karpathos to see the village of Olympos, which is one of the most beautiful and traditional villages in Greece.

Here the church of the Virgin Mary, which is known for its magnificent iconostasis, celebrates the Assumption. The believers enter through its main door, carrying whole bundles of basil, dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Women in folk costumes carry on their heads baskets decorated with flowers and myrtle. The liturgies are deeply connected with mourning which is typical of this great Christian celebration and the peak of the traditional feasts are the people perforning a ring dance in the small square in front of the church.

The Island of Nisyros – Panagia Spiliani (The Virgin Mary of the Cave)

The cult to the Virgin Mary is very important on the Island of Nisyros. The monastery of Panagia Spiliani, visible from almost every point of the island, celebrates the Assumption from 6 to 15 August. It was built on top of a hill northwest of the main town of Mandraki.

The celebrations begin when the icon of the Virgin Mary arrives in the village and they involve dances, songs and lots of wine.

The Island of Lesbos – Panagia Agiasotissa

Tags: The AssumptionChurchesPilgrimsSolemn liturgyProcession
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