At the southwestern edge of the Venetian castle of the historic town of Koroni, in the Municipality of Koroni, stands the Shrine of Panagia Eleistria, upon holy land within an enchanting wood, overlooking the entrance to the bay of Messini, defined to the west by the cape of Akritas and Isle Venetiko and to the east by the imposing Mount Taygetos. The beautiful stone-built church is dedicated to the Most-Holy Theotokos and the True Cross and celebrates on the Friday of Zoodochos Pigi (the first friday after Easter) and on January 22nd, which is the anniversary of the discovery of the sacred icon of Panagia Eleistria (as well as March 25 and September 14).
The Icon of Panagia Eleistria was miraculously discovered in 1897 due to the continuous visions of the pious and venerable Maria G. Stathakis from Koroni, to whom the Theotokos herself appeared in dreams, urging her with the words: "Tell your townspeople to come and dig in this place and they will find three small icons within a rock crevice. In that place they are to build a church. The foundations of the church should be on this wall that I have protected from earthquakes, wars and natural disasters.”
Despite the old woman's initial fears and the distrust of the people of Koroni, it finally happened that on January 21, 22 and 23 of 1897 the three icons were found consecutively, one depicting a Crucifix, the other the Theotokos and the third probably Luke the Evangelist (due to his artistic connection to the Mother of God). During the 1950s the Metropolitan of Messenia, Chrysostomos Daskalakis, framed the icons of the Crucifix and the Theotokos in silver and separately the icon of Luke the Evangelist.
The opening ceremony of the church took place on December 26, 1900 and was attended by a great multitude in the presence of the Metropolitan of the Former Nikopolis and Preveza Gabriel Petroudakis from Leros, who traveled from Athens for the occasion.
Today the Shrine of Eleistria is gradually being renovated thanks to the love and interest of the Metropolitan of Messenia, Chrysostomos Savvatos. The first act of this great Shepherd was the compilation of a set of rules for the operation and administration of the shrine, which was validated by the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece.
According to this regulation, part of the Holy Shrine’s income will be assigned to the benevolent Scholarship Fund for the poor university students from Messenia.
See also: The Miraculous Discovery of the Icon of Panagia Eleistria in Koroni in 1897