November 22, 2010

Panagia Malteza of Santorini

The miraculous icon of Panagia Malteza is found in the Church of the Entrance of the Theotokos Into the Temple in the village of Imerovigli of Santorini. The icon received its name because it was found in the sea near Malta (the Malteze Virgin).

According to tradition, on a trip from Santorini to Malta while transporting Vin Santo, the captain of a ship, Theodoros Borlis from Imerovigli, found an icon near the island of Malta. Seeing the Panagia in a dream, he took the icon and brought it back to Imerovigli where he built a church in its honor.

The original church was built in the 19th century, but it was destroyed in 1956 following a great earthquake. In its place a new church was built. The church has a marvellous carved iconostasis with icons depicting scenes from the Old Testament. Originally the church had 12 big bells that is said to have been heard 8km away in Oia; the current bell tower only has four. It celebrates its festival annually on November 21st.