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May 8, 2012

The Great Miracle of Panagia of Kassopitra in Kerkyra in 1530

The town of Kassiopi, in Kanoni, situated 37 km north of the city of Kerkyra on the island of Corfu, was founded by Pyros, who transferred Epirotians here from Kassiopia, in order to solve the problem of the scarce population on the island. According to another tradition, the town was founded by the Epirotians after the destruction of Epirus by the ancient Romans. It is said that in the current location of the Monastery of Panagia Kassopitra, during the ancient Roman years, stood the Temple of Cassius Zeus after whom the town was named. The Emperor Nero visited Kassiopi singing a song for Jupiter in the Temple of Zeus.

The Monastery of Panagia Kassopitra was built before 1706, and in 1850 we have testimony as to its builder - "Elias of X". Hieromonk Gennadios from Epirus purchased the Monastery and installed three nuns to serve there. From that time it became a female convent. In 1991 it became a male monastery. The feast of the Monastery is celebrated on May 8th to commemorate the healing of the blind Stephen, which took place here on May 8, 1530.

In 1530 a young peasant named Stephen went to the city of Kerkyra for certain business that he had there. There he met other young men from the countryside whom he knew, and they decided to return home together. On the way they met other young people who were bringing flour from the mill to their homes. The companions of Stephen decided to forcibly take this flour, and urged Stephen to participate in the theft. Stephen not only refused to participate in this evil act, but urged the others to abandon their plan as well. Despite this the theft took place and the one who was punished was the innocent Stephen. This was because the victims lodged a complaint to the authorities, and the perpetrators went into hiding while Stephen did not hide, having not committed the crime. For this reason he walked freely back to the city one day and they arrested him. He was brought before Symeon Leone who ordered that either his hand be cut off or his eyes removed for the crime, leaving to innocent Stephen the choice; he chose the second.

Now blind, Stephen was led by his mother to the Church of Saint Lazarus to beg for mercy. Yet in the city Stephen encountered derision, so they decided to go away from the city and arrived in Kassiopi. Arriving at the Monastery of the Theotokos, there they asked the guardian monk for hospitality. The monk allowed them to stay the night in the church. During the night, while Stephen was numb from the pain, he felt someone pushing his eyes hard, and he awoke screaming. He then saw a woman bright beyond measure, who then disappeared immediately. He then woke up his mother to tell her of his vision, and revealed to her that he could now see. Hearing the cries of Stephen, the monk ran to the church. Amazed, the monk went to the city and proclaimed the miracle. Symeon Leone himself went to the Monastery to see the miracle, and upon seeing Stephen's new eyes and the scars from the heated iron that had previously removed them, he begged for forgiveness for his unjust punishment. It should also be noted that before the miracle the eyes of Stephen were brown, but after they became blue, and he would show his brown eyes which were contained in liquid to prove he had a new pair of eyes.

Apolytikion in the First Tone
Let us flee to the Monastery of Kassopitra in Kerkyra, and embrace your revered icon O Theotokos. Stephen was blinded along the way, and you granted him new eyes, now by his eyes you illuminate the hearts of those who sing: Rejoice the divine entryway of light, rejoice table of life, rejoice the harbor of Kanoni, the peace of the sea-port.

Another Apolytikion in the Second Tone
All your deeds are most wondrous and worthy of praise, most holy Mother of God; for to Stephen, unjustly deprived of his eyes and blinded, you granted eyes again and restore to him sight. Pray to Christ our God to enlighten our souls.

Kontakion in Plagal of the Fourth Tone
O Mother who knew not wedlock, blind Stephen came with his mother to your church in Kassiopi, lamenting and bewailing his misfortune. By your intercessions to the Lord you granted him eyes, O Birthgiver of the Light of the world. When he was healed he cried out to you: Rejoice, O Maiden of exceeding radiance.

Most-wondrous and awesome miracle, strangely monumental, that the blind Stephen, received another pair of eyes for vision, by the Theotokos, whom we magnify.