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August 23, 2010

The Miraculous Panagia Faneromeni of Nea Artaki in Evia

The Miraculous Appearance of the Faneromeni in Evia

The history of the original icon of Panagia Faneromeni dates back to the 12th century. It's location was revealed in a miraculous manner to the people of Kizikou in Asia Minor, who named it "the revealed one" (Faneromeni). Eventually a monastery was built on the spot of the discovery, and the icon was housed there until 1922 when the Orthodox were forced out of the region. Taking the icon with them, the people went to Constantinople, and the holy icon was placed in the Church of Saint George in the Patriarchate where it remains till this day.

These refugees, deprived of their homeland, their monastery and their holy icon, eventually came to Evia, Greece and settled in Nea Artaki. On 29 April 1951, which was Pascha Sunday, a miraculous event happened that was to forever change their ecclesiastical lives.

Eight girls between the ages of ten and twelve years old were playing near the beach and singing songs. Suddenly, a short distance from where they were, a woman of exceptional beauty dressed in black and kneeling in prayer appeared. She was wearing a golden wrist band (χρυσά επιμανίκια) and over her head was a black veil and a halo.

Seeing this, the girls became frightened and ran to their parents to tell them of this strange vision. When the parents arrived, the black-clad woman was gone. However, a trace of her presence was left behind with the imprint of her knees still in the dirt.

The little girls related their experience to the local parish priest the blessed Fr. Spyridon Athanasiou, and he in turn informed the blessed Metropolitan Gregory (Pleiatho) of Halkida (1922-1968). The Metropolitan invited the little girls to explain to him everything, informing him also that the woman had appeared in their dreams and explained she was the Panagia and on the spot of her appearance a church ought to be built. Following this, the Metropolitan gave his blessing to have a church erected in honor of the Panagia.

The Building of the Holy Shrine

The foundation stone of the holy church was laid by Metropolitan Gregory on 12 August 1951. Eventually a magnificent church was erected to the glory of God and the magnification of the All-Holy Theotokos. It was dedicated in 1969 by the blessed Metropolitan Nicholas of Halkidos (1968-1974).

On the spot where the vision of the black-clad woman was seen, a small chapel was built, and over this is the bell-tower. In the courtyard small shrines were made to different scenes of the life of Christ and the Panagia. On the southern part of the courtyard is the Lazareio Spiritual Center which contains the offices of the parish, a school to learn Byzantine music, a library, and other things for the spiritual development of the community. In the west side of the courtyard is a hall where refreshments are served following the Divine Liturgy for the fellowship of the faithful.

The Church celebrates its feast day on August 23rd, which is the Apodosis of the Dormition of the Theotokos.