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January 31, 2018

Synaxis of Panagia Dakriroousa in Kefallonia

The Monastery of Koronatos is 3 kilometers from the town of Lixouri. According to tradition, the nobleman Leon Polikalas fled from Koroni in the Peloponnese to the province of Paliki on the island of Kefallonia, bringing with him an icon of the Mother of God. He then honorably dedicated it to a church, which was built at his own expense and care at the end of the 15th century. During the following century, the church was most likely destroyed by earthquakes.

A shepherd from the Megalogenis family from the village of Polikalata was herding his sheep in the village where the Monastery lies today. The ram abandoned the herd on a daily basis and went to drink water from the spring under the fig tree in the village where the church used to be before the earthquakes. After following it, the herdsman saw a blinding flash coming from the fig tree. As he approached, he saw an icon of the Virgin Mary with a small amulet. He brought it down and took it home, but the icon kept on leaving and returning to the fig tree where the shepherd had found it. This happened many times, so the herdsman finally had to make the miracle public and with his fellow villagers’ contributions, the church was rebuilt. The original icon of the Panagia Koroniotissa has been lost. A copy of this icon is the miraculous one found today on the church throne.

The icon is also called “Dakriroousa” (Tear-Shedder) because after the violent earthquakes of January 23rd 1867, the icon was found on the floor with tearful eyes, even though the church hadn’t been destroyed. According to local tradition, during the earthquake a pious man of Lixouri saw a vision in which he was informed that the earthquake was of divine origin and that Kefallonia was about to sink into the sea, but the Virgin Mary with tears in her eyes interceded on behalf of the island to spare it. The next morning, after the earthquake ceased, the pious man and others went to the Monastery of Panagia Koroniotissa to offer up thanksgiving for their deliverance, which is when they found the tearing icon of the Mother of God on the floor. The marks from these tears can still be seen on the icon today. Since then every year on January 23rd crowds gather at the Monastery for all-night vigil.

The Monastery celebrates on August 15th (Dormition of the Theotokos), on January 23rd (Panagia Dakriroousa, the saving of the Monastery from the 1867 earthquakes), on July 2nd (Panagia Vlachernon, since in the katholicon is a very old and extremely beautiful icon of the Mother of God "Root of Jesse") and on the Saturday of the Akathist Hymn (there is such an icon on the throne). After the Divine Liturgy there is a food offering which has been prepared by the nuns.

Devout vigils are held at the Monastery during every celebration of the Virgin Mary throughout the year, as well as during the feasts of the great saints. These vigils are always kept and the Monastery follows the rituals of Mount Athos. The nuns are occupied with accommodating visitors, embroidery (vestments for clergy and the altar, crocheting, knitting etc.), crafts, farming, gardening and livestock. By its mere presence, the Monastery has contributed to the moral and spiritual exaltation and cultivation of the Paliki Province.