April 28, 2011

Panagia Kamariotissa In Samothraki

In the village of Kamariotissa in Samothraki (Samothrace), at the port of the island in the Church of the Dormition of the Theotokos, is found the icon of Panagia Kamariotissa. It is honored and celebrated annually on the Thursday of Bright Week.

The icon was discovered some time during the days of Iconoclasm on the island on the Thursday of Bright Week that year. It is estimated to have been found in the first or second decade of the ninth century.

One morning some fishermen were gathered in the cove in the northwest of the island where there is the current port, and as they engaged in arranging the nets they saw on the horizon a bright light without seeing anything floating in the sea.

As time passed the light became more intense, and with their growing curiosity and surprise, as they could not explain what the light was they were seeing, it gradually approached them.

It finally occurred to the fisherman to take their boats out to solve the mystery of the light. In one boat there were two men and in the other a man rowed to the light by himself, which was about a half mile away. They followed each other at a short distance. When they reached approximately a hundred fathoms from land they stopped rowing awaiting for the light to approach them.

And this is what happened. The illuminated object came to them and stopped in between the two boats. As they looked closely they saw a sealed canister. The boat with two fishermen took the canister, with one fisherman holding it while the other led them to shore. The other boat followed, full of suspense.

They reached shore, tied their boats, and gathered around the canister curious what treasure it contained. Indeed they found a priceless treasure, when they saw that it contained an icon of the Theotokos holding the child Jesus in her arms. It bore the name "Panagia Kamariotissa".

Great awe and joy seized the fishermen. They glorified the Mother of God and the All-Good God. After venerating the icon they brought it in the middle of the night to their poor homes.

The three boatmen revealed to everyone the circumstance of the discovery, and everyone considered it a miracle. They even related how when their boats stopped in the middle of the sea, it was because their hands became paralyzed and they could not row anymore. The names of the three fishermen, according to tradition, are Paul and his younger brother Raxi, the latter of the two being the one who carried the canister to shore; the third was named Lambros.

That afternoon during lunch they discussed where to house the icon. Instead of it being kept in one of their homes, they decided instead to build a small church forty steps above the area where they found it, since there were ruins of an old church there already. They named it Panagia Kamariotissa and its celebration was done annually on the Thursday of Bright Week. Since then all the people of the island began celebrating "the feast of Kamariotissa".

These fishermen together with the help of others on the island, despite their daily occupations, made it a point to always keep an oil lamp burning before this miraculous icon. In turn many miracles over the centuries have occurred for the inhabitants of the island. The Theotokos has truly become the protectress of the island.

ΑΠΟΛΥΤΙΚΙΟΝ Ήχος πλ. α΄. Τον Συνάναρχον Λόγον
Σεβασμίαν εικόνα της Θεομήτορος, την εν θαλάσση οφθείσαν, την επισκέπτιν ημών, προσκυνούμεν ευλαβώς και ασπαζόμεθα˙ ότι ηυδόκησεν ελθείν, απαλλάξαι των δεινών και χάριτας δωρηθήναι˙ της Σαμοθράκης το κλέος, και των πιστών το αγαλλίαμα.