August 12, 2010

The Chapel of Panagia Krifti (The Hidden Panagia)

Forty-two kilometers from Mytilini on the southern coast of Lesvos, Plomari, the ouzo capital of Greece, is built ampithitheatrically near the sea and is the second largest town on the island. This is where one can find the isolated chapel of Panagia Krifti (Παναγιά Κρυφτή).

Panagia Krifti is a picturesque little chapel hidden in a rock above a small bay with hot springs. You can reach it either on foot by the path coming from Melinda Beach or by boat. Access from inland is difficult but the beauty of this beach is worth all your trouble. It is tradition to first venerate the miraculous icon of Panagia Krifti, then dip into the healing springs of the bay.

The chapel dates back to the early 19th century. According to tradition, a beautiful young woman with her child were pursued by Turks on horseback (which is why local villagers from Palaiohoriou today on the feast day come to the chapel on horseback). She came to the area where the chapel is today, and as they closed in on her, she reached a dead end and it was then that she prayed to God to save her. A cave was revealed to her and she hid, and its entrance was no longer visible. This cave, which hid the young woman, was dedicated by her to the Virgin Mary. Thus the name of the chapel is called the Hidden Panagia (Panagia Krifti).

In 1922 when refugees from Asia Minor came to Lesvos, many landed here and consider Panagia Krifti to be their protectress. Many also came here during World War 2 to escape from the Nazi's.

Κρυφή Παναγιά

Πελαγίσια μου αύρα
Ακρογιάλια κρυφά
Ποια σπηλιά, νά ’κρυψε
την Παναγιά μας
Στα ράχτα της Μελίντας,
Να γεννά
Τα πολυπλόκαμα
Κορώνες του βυθού
Βασιλικούς αστερίσκους
Στα απύθμενα της θάλασσας ;
Κορίτσια με Πράσινα
Της ελιάς φουστάνια
Ορμάνε στα Νερά
Κοχλάζει η θάλασσα
Ανάβουνε σπηλιές
Κόκκινα της φωτιάς ,τα βράχια
Τα κύματα υποκλίνονται
Στη Μάνα ,την Κρυφή
Την Παναγιά