January 30, 2014

Commemoration of the Miracle of the Great Martyr George in Zakynthos in 1688

Commemoration of the Miracle of the Great Martyr George in Zakynthos (Feast Day January 30)

The Great Martyr of Christ, George, is especially honored this day in Zakynthos, because he is linked to the salvation of the island from the plague that took place in the year 1688.

In 1669 Cretan refugees came to the island of Zakynthos after Heraklion fell to the Turks, among whom was Ioannis Papadopoulos who brought with him an old icon of Saint George, which was placed inside the Church of Saint Demetrios of Kola. Sacrilegious thieves, however, stripped it of its silver trim and threw the icon in a trough on November 13, 1688.

According to the scholar and priest Nicholas Gavriilopoulos, two young men at dawn were going hunting, and on their way they came upon the icon in the trough. They ran back to the Church of Saint Demetrios and told the parish priest where they found it and how. The Protopriest and other priests from the island went to the spot of the discovery with candles and incense and brought it to Foros (Saint Mark Square), where an excommunication was read towards those who committed this sacrilege. Finally it was then transferred back to the church again.

Some days later, on November 24th, throughout the entire district a plague spread, which they considered a divine punishment for the sacrilege. For atonement the people resorted to fasting and prayer. By January 30, 1689 they were completely free of the plague. This was considered a miracle of Saint George, and thus the feast was established. A Service was written by Nicholas Gavriilopoulos himself, and it was printed in Venice in 1710. The state also ordered on February 7, 1689 that every year a procession was to take place on January 30th.

It was decided to build a church in honor of Saint George to house the miraculous icon. This Church of Saint George the Kamariotis of Koumouton, built by the nobleman Yakumo Komoutos on his land in memory of his parents, and which was near Saint Mark Square at the beginning of Mantzarou Road, bore the following inscription: "George, by this church in your city, we foreigners entrust to you our salvation."