May 3, 2011

Panagia Chrysafitissa of Monemvasia

Panagia Chrysafitissa (Feast Day - Monday of St. Thomas)

The Church of Panagia Chrysafitissa is located in the old town of Monemvasia and was built in the seventeenth century on the ruins of a twelfth century monastery named after Panagia Odigitria. Inside this church is the icon of Panagia Chrysafitissa which originally came from the village of Chrysafa in Lacedaemon (Sparta).

In a miraculous manner this holy icon of Panagia Chrysafitissa was discovered on the spot where today there is a spring of holy water, known as "The Holy Water of Chrysafitissa". Various diseases are cured through this holy water, and it plays a special role in helping the barren bear children, especially males. It is believed this holy water spring existed in the tenth century.

The holy icon of Panagia Chrysafitissa seems to date to the 15th or 16th century and is of a Byzantine style.

According to folk tradition, merchants from Chrysafa came to Monemvasia to celebrate the feast of the Theotokos. Upon entering the church to venerate the holy icon, they noticed it was from Chrysafa, and they protested: "The people of Monemvasia stole our icon, our Chrysafitissa!" They took the case to trial and the judge decided in favor of giving the icon to the merchants from Chrysafa. The pilgrims from Chrysafa took the icon with great joy and brought it to Chrysafa and had it placed in one of their churches. A festive service took place in honor of the icon, and when all was done they locked the church and left. That night in a miraculous manner the icon left the church and was found the next day in Monemvasia, where the Theotokos continues to work miracles for the faithful.


1. Five year old Meletios Kalogeras was sent by his father Eleutherios, during Meatfare week, to transport a small bag of rice to the house of his uncle John Kontoleos, where they were going to eat among relatives. On the way the child fell into a kind of lunacy and he fell to the ground. His mother heard of this and came to bring him back home while he was shaking and foaming at the mouth. The boy's father was at the marketplace when this happened, and upon hearing the news went home to find his son in a terrible state. He went to the Church of Christ Bearing the Cross which today is right next to Panagia Chrysafitissa and at that time held the holy icon, and he pleaded before the holy icon with tears that the Theotokos may heal his child. As he prayed in this way he noticed the silver and gold offerings around the icon begin to shake and make a noise like small bells. The father thought this was a sign of his sinfulness and unworthiness to make such a request, so he prayed more fervently. Meanwhile, relatives of Eleutherios, when they saw him running to the church, thought he was running to the beach to kill himself, so they had followed him. When they saw that he had gone to the church they went to the house of the boy and noticed that he was compeletely healed. They went to the church and told Eleutherios and all returned to the house, where they thanked the Theotokos and glorified God. The father asked his son how he was and to give him his hands. The boy gave his father his right hand, but unable to move his left for it was paralyzed. The father again prayed to the Theotokos, and immediately the boy was also able to move his left hand, thus making him completely well.

2. In 1884 an ailing woman named Eudokia N. Fifli from the village of Haraka in Zorakos came to Monemvasia yelling and gesturing as one possessed by demons. It was Bright Friday and in the Church of Panagia Chrysafitissa there was an all-night vigil going on for the feast of the Life-Giving Spring. At 10:00 pm Eudokia came into the church unexpectedly. When she saw the pious women there she became very afraid. In her hand was some bread, so she went towards the holy icon and said to the Theotokos: "Eat bread also my Mother". After she said this the gold and silver offerings on the icon began to shake and a noise was heard coming from them. Eudokia fell on her knees and prayed till dawn, after which she was completely healed.

3. In 1886 a man named Kyriakos Dimotsis came from the village of Asopos, and he suffered from lunacy. It was the feast of the holy icon, which is the Monday of Saint Thomas. When he entered the church he was completely healed.

4. Similarly a woman in 1884 named Kalomoira Sembebou, from Lyra in Monemvasia, suffered with lunacy. She also was healed by the Panagia, after which she went to the Monastery of Myrtidiotissa in Kythera and became a nun.

5. A Muslim owned a house next to the Church of Panagia Chrysafitissa, and wanting to build an extension he decided he needed to destroy part of the church. His intention was to build a bath house where part of the church was for himself and his wife and children, as the Turks were wont to do. And this he did. The Christians prayed about this matter. Suddenly the children of the Muslim man began to die one by one, so that the man became childless. One day the man was going to the bath house to wash up, when he saw a woman that looked as if she was going to drown the man. From that time forward no one lived in that house, and no one even dared to ever urinate anywhere near the church but outside it, lest they face a particular judgment for not keeping the place chosen by the Mother of God as a sacred shrine. Every Saturday the Turks who lived nearby would offer incense to the Virgin Mary after this event, and when they offered silver and gold offerings to the holy icon they were healed of any ailments they may have. Thus we see that whoever glorifies and honors the Mother of God becomes a partaker of the grace given to her by God.

Ὡς δῶρον οὐράνιον, τῇ εὐδοκίᾳ τῇ σῇ, ἡ πόλις ἐκτήσατο, Μονεμβασίας Ἁγνή, τὴν θείαν Εἰκόνα σου· ᾗ περ καὶ προσιοῦσα, Χρυσαφίτισσα Κόρη, λαμβάνει ἀεὶ ἐκ ταύτης, πᾶσαν χάριν βοῶσα· Χαῖρε Κεχαριτωμένη, ὁ Κύριος μετὰ σοῦ.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos