May 12, 2010

Discovery of the Panagia Ypapanti Icon in Kalamata

Discovery of the Icon of Panagia Ypapanti (Feast Day - Apodosis of Pascha)

The Metropolitan Cathedral of Kalamata is known by the name Ypapanti tou Sotiros, or Presentation of the Savior. It is one of the largest Cathedrals of Messinia and was built in 1839 and consecrated in 1873. The layout is a traditional Byzantine style and it houses within the ancient and miraculous icon of the Panagia. It celebrates annually on February 2, which is the feast of the Presentation of the Lord into the Temple. It also celebrates on the Apodosis of Pascha, which is a moveable feast day celebrated the day prior to the Holy Ascension. It was on the Apodosis of Pascha that the wonderworking icon was discovered. The Panagia Ypapanti is the Protectress of the City of Kalamata.

The icon of the Theotokos, dated to 672 AD, was found in a stable of an Ottoman during the Turkish occupation, after a stable-man had a vision. Even though the back of the icon board was entirely burned, the front was perfectly intact. It bore the name "Ypapanti", and probably belonged to a Church of the Presentation of the Savior which had been in Kalamata centuries before the Turkish occupation. The church must have burned down, which is why the icon was burned in the back. The front must have been preserved by the protection of the Holy Virgin. On the land in which the icon was discovered, a small church was initially built to honor the Presentation of the Lord and to house this icon. It was figured also that the stable had been the church that had once burned, which is why they chose the same spot to rebuild the church. The Metropolitan Cathedral was not built until Greece became free of Ottoman domination, and on 19 August 1873 it was consecrated.

The icon of Panagia Ypapanti is not only venerated by the residents of Kalamata, but extends throughout all of Greece, and thousands flock to this Cathedral for its feast day and receive miraculous intervention through the Theotokos and her wonderworking icon. One example of its miraculous powers dates to 1841 when the entire population of Kalamata was saved from certain annihilation. In the initial months of Autumn that year, a mysterious illness befell what seemed the entire population of Kalamata. Even the doctors sent to treat the ill caught the disease. Death became such a regular vision in the city that the bells of the churches were ringing hourly informing everyone of the death of another victim. Daily there were burials as well, and sadness permeated throughout Kalamata. When all hope was lost, the people placed their hope in the Panagia and decided to hold a litany throughout the city lead by the Panagia Ypapanti icon. It was hoped that the Panagia would lift this plague from the people and save them from certain death. Those who oversaw the governance of the city then ordered all the residents to undertake a three-day fast, after which they were to attend a Paraklisi (Supplication) Service to the Panagia as well as the litany which was to follow. To the glory of God and the Holy Virgin, during the litany itself the plague began to lift from Kalamata and the city was saved from certain annihilation.

During the earthquakes of 1886 and 1986 the center dome of the church was destroyed, but reconstructed according to the original plans.

Pilgrims can visit the church during the day any day. Also, every evening the bells of the Cathedral ring calling everyone to the local cemetery to light the oil-lamps over the graves of their loved ones, leaving the cemetery bright throughout the night.

See also:

The Greek Synaxarion

Information On Various Litanies of the Icon in the 20th Century

The Visit of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew to the Cathedral in Kalamata in 2010