One day Sophia became heavily ill. She was bent over from her pain. Initially there was a swelling, which gradually increased. Then there came a foul-smelling liquid for several days. Some spoke of peritonitis. Others argued that the hard rubber of the flimsy skirt she wore tore at her. As seen from the descriptions of those who watched the matter, it was probably a "periappendiceal abscess", according to medical terminology.
And this blessed one would tamp the wound with cloths and wicks from the oil lamps. It began to rot.
The wife of Papa-Fotis begged her to allow them to call a doctor. She smelled, but did not accept any help or treatment. "The Panagia will come and take my pain. She promised me," she said, as it was remembered by someone from a narration of Sophia herself. Fr. Panagiotis P., a priest today in Kastoria, told us what he learned from his son-in-law Angelo P. in Amyntaio. Angelo remembers with great precision the events:
"In the month of September, of 1967, we had gone camping with scouts from Amyntaio to the Monastery of the Panagia. We set up our tents outside the monastery, on the threshing floor, and often went to the church.
It was the day of the September 8th feast. Suddenly a torrential rain came down, and we rushed to collect our things from the camp and entered the courtyard of the monastery. There we heard complaining groans coming from the third fireplace. We approached and saw a black mess, from which we heard the groans. We recognized that it was Sophia, who was in a lot of pain. There was also a layman from Varyko in the monastery. We mentioned what was going on, and he said, 'The old lady is tough.'
It was as if Sophia spoke silently and in pain. Among the words that could not be understood, she continuously said, "The Panagia, the Panagia." Eventually those who were the biggest took her and carefully laid her on the table. George, who was a freshman in medicine, and whose father was governor of Amyntaio, examined her. Konstantinos Georgakopoulos, an orthopedic doctor today in Florina, and my friend Anastasios Athanasiou, who recently had stepped down from being an army major, were also there. The stench was great and the wound needed immediate surgery.
Sophia groaned all night. Two or three scouts woke up very early the next morning. We went out to the courtyard and the old servant greeted us. "We have a miracle today," he added. Sophia went to the fountain and threw water on herself. We approached her and the children took up her garment. We all saw with our eyes the freshly closed wound from the chest down to her appendix.
We stayed for more days at the monastery. We saw her going around the courtyard speaking of her miracle. She did not seem to be going around with difficulty, as if she was someone who recently underwent surgery. It was a miracle, you see. To others she showed her wound, with obvious joy.
Later, Sophia had a strange smell. Not like an old woman, but like the church smells. Something like beeswax, oil and incense.
Thirty years have passed and it is as if I see her before me. As if it was yesterday."
To a group of pious pilgrims who came by bus from Athens, she herself described this incredible event, which has been preserved on tape:
"The Panagia came with the Archangel Gabriel and Saint George, as well as other saints. The Archangel said, 'We will cut you now.' I said, 'I am a sinner; I must first confess, commune, then you can cut.'
'You will not die,' he said, 'we are doing surgery for you,' he said as he opened."
This was narrated innocently and simply, as if it was a most natural thing. And without shame she would lift her blouse or dress, to show where the incision closed itself. She waited for the intervention of the Panagia, as she had promised herself. And the miracle happened.
There was no room to doubt the words of Sophia.
Mrs. Kitsa K., one of her most loyal disciples, remembers the facts:
"The Archangel Gabriel tore her open with his sword, and a great stench was released. The saints took out her internal organs and placed them next to her, on a seat, on her apron. The Archangel very carefully cleaned the wound, as instructed by the Panagia."
Mrs. Vasiliki K. adds that the Panagia put in Sophia's mouth a small white pill, as she said to many people. By the morning she was completely cured.
Another disciple of Sophia said that Saint Kyriaki and Saint Paparaskevi were also there, and how the Archangel's sword was made of wood.
Sophia was 84 years old then.
Three surgeons came from Athens and doctors from Kozani and checked the wound, where it seemed like a clear incision had closed, exactly as if it was a surgical intervention.
Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.