A few kilometers outside the city of Trikala, in the shadow of the sacred cliffs of Meteora, a shocking event is taking place: From the wood of the sacred icon of the Archangel Michael, which was painted five years ago by the iconographer Father Panagiotis Pevkis, mysterious drops of oil are streaming, which, in a surprising manner, are not altering the iconography!
The priest iconographer felt overwhelming awe when he first saw the drops. Immediately he prayed to God. He avoided spreading the word to the people, fearing that the people might misunderstand the "message" of the Lord, as he says.
"The sacred icon of the Archangel Michael that I painted is a replica of an icon of the Chrysoloras school. I completed the iconography about five years ago. After some time I was surprised to discover oil streaming from the wood of the icon. I did my cross and wiped the drops with cotton. I feared that it would destroy the iconography. At that time I thought of nothing else. The oil, however, surprisingly continued to stream. It smelled like the oil from an oil lamp when it is lit and it has an amber color. It is curious that, even though it flows, it is not destroying the colors of the icon," Fr. Panagiotis Pevkis reveals to Orthodox Truth.
As he explains, the drops of oil stream from different points of the icon. "Sometimes from the face of the Archangel, sometimes from the hands, every time the oil streams from different points. I cannot explain how this mysterious phenomenon takes place and I understand it to be a message from God. I asked a chemist to tell me his opinion. He could not give me a specific answer," says the priest iconographer.
He clarifies that the wood he used to create the icon was first treated at least 200 years ago. "It is dry wood from a plane tree, which was used as a lid. It is not the type of wood from which you could remove resin, such as a pine tree. There is no resin, which is why I can't explain why it is streaming oil," adds Fr. Panagiotis.
The sacred icon continues to stream oil, and the priest iconographer is considering consulting specialists. He does not call it a miracle, but a message from God, which aims to strengthen people's faith.
A Student of Vranos at Athoniada
Father Panagiotis Pevkis was born in Nea Pevki of Trikala 61 years ago. A child of a large family of a priest, he lived his childhood according to the Greek traditions and Christian faith.
Spiritually restless he arrived at Mount Athos. From 1972 to 1975 he studied at the Athoniada Ecclesiastical Academy. "There I was taught the art of iconography from the monk and professor John Vranos, one of the most distinguished and excellent connoisseurs of Byzantine iconography," he stresses to Orthodox Truth.
He then studied at the Higher Ecclesiastical Academy of Thessaloniki and in 1979, after completing his studies, he returned to his hometown, Trikala. There he married and had three sons. In 1980 he was ordained deacon and in 1982 he was a priest in the parish of Saint Anthony in the village Parapotamos, where today he serves as parish priest.
In 1980 he founded the factory of Byzantine Iconography called "Pevkis", which until today continues to operate and teach young people the art of sacred iconography.
He is considered one of the best contemporary iconographers, creating sacred icons in a faithful manner which can be found in various churches, monasteries, museums and private collections. "In this way I contribute to the preservation and broadest possible dissemination of our specific cultural heritage," he stresses.
The main features of the art of Fr. Panagiotis Pevkis are the ascetic figures, the gentleness of expression of the saints, their goodness and humility which attract the human soul and lead one to search for God. "Every icon," says the priest iconographer, "is a hope and support for every believer and lead them to God, keeping the flame of faith alive."
Translated by John Sanidopoulos.