By Theodore Kalmoukos
An unexplained phenomenon has been occurring since July 19th of 2015 in the community of the Assumption Greek Orthodox Church in Homer Glen, Illinois, where an icon of Saint John the Forerunner exudes a fragrant liquid.
The National Herald contacted Fr. Sotirios Dimitriou, who has served as a priest in the community since the year 1993, and he said "the icon of Saint John the Forerunner exudes some kind of liquid that has a beautiful scent.
It was first discovered by two female parishioners who usually sit in the first row of the pews, Niki Mihalopoulos and Miki Prais. Also, among the first to notice it was the chanter Nikos Angelopoulos."
Fr. Sotirios also said, "I was sick in the hospital when the phenomenon started and when I came out of the hospital I was told immediately," and he added, "when I went to kiss the icon I noticed that indeed there was a certain liquid running, trickles that were fragrant, and I didn't know what it was."
Fr. Sotirios continued, saying how "as the weeks passed we saw more activity on the icon, more of an outflow of this fragrant liquid coming from the icon of the Forerunner, particularly from the wings, the hands, the beard, the hair, the crown, everywhere."
"Did only you see this phenomenon and those mentioned above, or the whole congregation?" we asked him. "The congregation also saw it, and were ecstatic because they saw it happening before their eyes," he told us.
He informed Metropolitan Iakovos of Chicago and the chancellor Bishop Demetrios of Mokissos, who told Fr. Sotirios how "it is a blessing to the community."
Fr. Sotirios said that "we did not write or publish anything, but the phenomenon has spread by word of mouth," and added, "you are the first I have spoken with. Some have reported it on social media."
Fr. Sotirios listed cases of sick people who were cured of various diseases they suffered and ascribe their treatment to the miraculous intervention of the Forerunner.
He said that "a person named John underwent surgery at the University Hospital of Chicago and they removed a tumor from his kidney. When he went home he began to bleed internally. They rushed him again to the hospital on Christmas and the doctors concluded he needed to be opened, but the oncologist told them to wait.
His cousin went to the hospital and told him, 'I went to that church and brought you some myrrh from the icon. Can I anoint you?' And he said, 'Yes, please.' The next morning the doctors examined him and said there was no need to submit him into surgery, everything was alright and the blood from his stomach was absorbed by his body."
Fr. Sotirios added how "a man came to church and told me, 'Fr. Sotirios, I came to kiss the icon and become Orthodox.'"
Fr. Sotirios mentioned other situations, such as himself.
He said, "I was in and out of the hospital for the previous three years, but from September 15th until today I haven't returned to the hospital, nor do I take medication."
The icon was created 16 years ago by Panagiotis Mihalopoulos.
When I asked Fr. Sotirios what his parishioners were saying about it, he said, "They feel it is a blessing from God, words cannot describe it. Others have come from neighboring communities because it has spread by word of mouth."
The community of the Assumption of the Theotokos consists of 200 families and was established in 1916. Previously it was in the area of Olympia Fields, while it moved to its current location 19 years ago.
When we we asked Fr. Sotirios what the priesthood meant to him, he said, "Everything, words cannot describe it.
My greatest joy is when I stand before the Holy Altar and perform the Divine Liturgy.
When I serve the people and transmit to them Divine Communion,." And he added, "For me this sign of the icon is a miracle."
Source: The National Herald, March 2016. Translated by John Sanidopoulos.