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Church of the Megolohari

Listed under Sacred Spaces in Cyclades Islands, Greece.

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Windswept Tinos is a peaceful island of forty whitewashed villages scattered across rolling hills. Venerated as a holy island in antiquity, pilgrims journeyed to Tinos for its temples of Poseidon and Dionysos. The first known Christian structure on the island, a Byzantine church, was built upon the foundations of the temple of Dionysos. Destroyed by Moslem raiders in the 10th century, the site was abandoned. In 1822 a local nun named Pelagia had visions of Mary describing the location of a buried icon, which was then found on January 30, 1823. Subsequent archaeological excavations determined the area of the icon's discovery to have been the site of the ancient Byzantine church and, before that, the temple of Dionysos.

Famous throughout the Greek Orthodox world as a miraculous healing icon, Panagia Evangelistria, ‘Our Lady of Good Tidings’, is a beautiful portrayal of Mary kneeling with her head bent in prayer. Regarded by scholars as being older than the Byzantine period, it may perhaps be the work of the Apostle St. Luke. It is assumed that the icon was a sacred object in the Byzantine church, hidden or lost around the time of the Moslem invasions. Shortly after the discovery of the icon, a new church was constructed and pilgrims began arriving from throughout Greece. Numerous reports of miracles of healing increased the fame of the Church of the Megolohari, with the result that today the sacred icon is the most loved pilgrimage object in Greece. Four major festival days are celebrated at the shrine: January 30, the anniversary of the discovery of the icon; March 25, the Annunciation of Mary; July 23, the anniversary of the vision of the nun Pelagia; and August 15, the Assumption of Mary. On each of these days the normally quiet town of Tinos is filled with many thousands of celebrating pilgrims. Besides the Church of the Megolohari, the tallest peak on Tinos, Mt. Prophet Elias, is also a fine place to spend a day of quiet meditation.

More about the Church of the Megolohari from Sacred Sites.

Written by  Martin Gray.

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