July 22, 2010

Saint Mary Magdalene Returns to Zakynthos Island

After nearly two millenia, St. Mary Magdalane has returned to the island of Zakynthos, a place in which she evangelized in apostolic times, according to tradition, in 34 AD.

Monks from Simonopetra Monastery on Mount Athos brought the miraculous holy hand of St. Mary to be venerated by the faithful there on July 19th. Metropolitan Chrysostomos of Zakynthos, accompanied by other hierarchs and clergy, received the holy incorrupt relic from the boat and immediately brought it into the Katholikon of the Monastery of St. Dionysios of Zakynthos, whose incorrupt relics also rest within. There a prayer service was held and the relic was displayed for veneration. It should be noted that the hand of St. Mary was accompanied by a piece of the True Cross and a relic of the three-year-old martyr St. Kyriakos.

After an All-Night Vigil before the holy relics the evening of their arrival, the next day they were transferred over to the village of Maries, a village named after both Mary of Magdalene and Mary of Cleopas, in which, according to tradition, St. Mary Magdalene first preached Christ crucified and risen to the locals while on her way to Rome, accompanied by St. Mary the wife of Cleopas. According to tradition their ship dropped anchor at Porto Vromi and Mary Magdalene came ashore to spread Christ’s gospel. The footprint can still be seen on the rock. Today at Maries, Panagia Mariesotissa is the church of the village, standing below the village and housing an icon with miraculous properties. A litany brought the holy relics to the church in Maries, where again a prayer service was held for the health and blessing of the people and the the holy relics were venerated by the faithful. That evening an All-Night Vigil was celebrated once again in Maries. On the evening of July 21, the night before the feast of St. Mary Magdalene, a Festal Great Vespers was held. A Festal Divine Liturgy was held on the morning of July 22, 2010. On July 23rd the holy relics will be brought to the Church of St. Theophilos of Zakynthos for a Vesper service, and on the morning of July 24th the fathers of Simonopetra Monastery will return the holy relics to Mount Athos.

The most important treasure of Simonopetra is the left hand of St Mary Magdalene - she is regarded as 'co-founder' of the Monastery - which has remained incorrupt for two thousand years. It is very miraculous and emits a beautiful scent by the grace of the Holy Spirit. One of the miracles spoken of by those who have venerated her left hand is that it is warm and keeps a temperature of a living human being at approximately 36.6 degrees Celsius, that is, 97.88 degrees Fahrenheit.