Bells have been ringing cheerfully this Thursday morning and the faithful have been flocking to the churches and chapels dedicated to the Virgin Mary on the day that is considered as the “Easter of the Summer.” The Dormition of Panagia to Heaven or simply Dekapentaygoustos – 15. August – is one of the biggest holidays in Greece, where the Orthodoxy celebrates death with joy, the reunion of Virgin Mary with her Son.
Pilgrims lay their hopes to the Mother of Jesus, pray and beg Panagia to provide them with good health.
In the focus of the Panagia pilgrimage is the Church of Evangelistria on the island of Tinos in Cyclades, central Aegean Sea.
It is the most notable and still active annual pilgrimage across the country.
Many pilgrims make their way, the 800 meters from the port to the Church to the church, on their hands and knees as sign of devotion, often to ask Panagia for the cure of a sick person or to thank Virgin Mary for curing an ill.
The miraculous icon of Evangelistria – Bearer of Good News – and Megalochari – of Great Grace – Panagia was found on the spot where the church stands after a vision of Saint Pelagia on 30. January 1823.
Below is the icon cover by the pilgrims’ oblations.
The celebration on Tinos instituted by a Royal Decree in 1836 to be eight days long and last until the “nine days of Theotokos”, on August 23, when hymns and praises are chanted and praised in an atmosphere of excitement.
At the same time, Greeks also honor those who were lost when the Italians torpedoed and sank cruiser “Elli” on 15. August 1940. The cruiser was moored near Tinos participating in the Panagia celebrations.
In Panagia Soumela, the symbol for the faith of Pontus Greeks, a large pilgrimage takes place to the icon of Virgin Mary, allegedly the work of Evangelist Luke, the cross of Emperor Emmanuel Komninos and the holy gospel of Father Christophoros, also a gift of Emperor Komninos.
There, on the slopes of Vermio Mt by Veroia, West Macedonia, thousands of pilgrims, as well as representatives of Federations and Pontic Associations from Greece and abroad, participate in this year’s sacred rituals and cultural events.
All Panagia celebrations end with a procession of the holy icon.
My favorite procession was on the island of Paros., where locals and visitors get on all kinds of small and big boats and sail off the port at night.
Τhe magnificent Church of Panagia Ekatontapyliani, literally the church with 100 doors, a historic Byzantine church founded in 326 AD is located in port of Paros. The church complex contains a main chapel surrounded by two more chapels and a baptistery with a cruciform font.