April 21, 2017

Synaxis of Panagia of Ampelokipoi in Larisa

Panagia of Ampelokipoi (Feast Day - Bright Friday)

By Fr. Konstantinos Delichristos
(Parish Priest)

By the end of the Ottoman occupation, the residents of Tambakika (Ampelokipoi) attended church at the neighboring Cathdedral of Saint Achilles. In 1877 the Chapel of Panagia Phaneromeni was built in a central part of the neighborhood together with a cemetery.

Shortly after this that same year, there appeared a nun named Theophania, who was determined to work unpaid at the chapel and at the memorials of the cemetery. Theophania considered it an ascetic practice to look after the graves on a daily basis, having in mind the Wisdom of Sirach: "In everything you do, remember your end, and you will never sin" (7:36). Theophania settled near the chapel in a small cell where she performed her monastic rule.

The omnipotent Lord, seeing the depth of her soul, revealed to her through dreams the spot where there was an old well, and in its depths an old icon of the Mother of God could be found.

After this Nun Theophania saw the Most Holy Theotokos in her dreams, as a brilliant woman, who led her to the old well and showed her its depths where the icon could be found at the source of the spring, and she asked to leave from there.

She communicated her dreams to the sacristan and then to the priest of that chapel, and eventually to Bishop Neophytos of Larisa, who had invited Theophania to his diocese to speak with her. With tears in her eyes Nun Theophania told the Bishop of her dreams, and he instructed his priests to pump the water out of the well.

An encyclical was issued informing the Metropolis of Larisa priests and faithful people were invited to attend the ceremony.

So it happened. One day the people assembled around the well with the priests dressed in their clerical vestments, led by the Bishop, in the presence of authorities and a numerous crowd. After a Supplication Service to the Most Holy Theotokos, the water began to be pumped, and with the disappearance of the water the icon appeared all muddied at the bottom.

Great was the emotion and joy of everyone and immediately the bell was festively ringing from the small wooden bell tower of the chapel.

Metropolitan Neophytos took the sacred icon in his hands, cleaned it of the mud, and formed a procession towards the Cathedral of Saint Achilles, where it was kept for veneration for forty days. This icon depicts the Most Holy Theotokos with the Lord (the Unfading Rose), and the Bishop called it "Life-Giving Spring", instructing that the icon be kept in the Cathedral until a church is built for it. Later a silver casing or "shirt" was placed over the icon and labelled with the title "Life-Giving Spring."

The icon is still kept today in the Church of the Life-Giving Spring, and since 2 May 2008 at the encouragement and with the blessing of Metropolitan Ignatios of Larisa and the sincere efforts of the Ecclesiastical Council it is placed on an elegant and imposing throne, where it is a source of grace, blessing and consolation, and does numerous miracles for the faithful people.

This church was demolished on 1 June 1990, and on 28 June 1990 a new foundation for a bigger church was consecrated by Metropolitan Demetrios IV of Larisa. The underground church was completed eight months later and was consecrated on Palm Sunday 31 March 1991. Construction for the upper church began on 29 October 1992. The entire church was completed and inaugurated in 2002.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.