July 27, 2019

A Banker's Testimony of a Miracle from 1893 in Asia Minor

Adalia in the 1840's

The following letter was published in The Spectator on 27 May 1893, which describes a miracle that took place at the Church of Saint Panteleimon in Adalia (Attaleia or Antalya), Asia Minor on April 25th that year. The author and witness is A.G.M. Dickson, a well known banker of the time. Dickson was a scholar of Oxford University who spoke French, modern Greek, Italian and Turkish. He had worked for the Imperial Ottoman Bank in 1890-1898, had been Athens manager of the Ionian Bank in 1899-1904, before becoming the Alexandria-based Sub-Governor of the National Bank of Egypt. He had served in 1915 as Commissioner of Currency and Finance to the British invasion force in Turkey, and had a wide knowledge of the east Mediterranean and the Middle East. In 1917 he was appointed manager of the British Trade Corporation.

An Asia Minor Miracle
(To the editor of the "Spectator")

Sir, - Having just read “Vacuus Viator’s” paper on Lourdes in the Spectator of April 15th, which reached me by today’s steamer, it has struck me that a short description of an event which is at present deeply stirring the whole Christian population of this town may be interesting to some of your readers. I was awakened early this morning by the loud peals of the bells of the principal Orthodox church here — St. Panteleimon, — and soon heard from my Greek servant that three mighty miracles had been worked during the night, and that a thanksgiving service was being held.

Passing the Greek church soon after, I found it entirely deserted, but learned that after the conclusion of the service a procession had been formed to go the round of the Christian quarter. I soon came upon it, a huge concourse of people; considerably more than half the Greeks of Adalia must have been present. The procession was headed by men carrying banners, crosses, and other emblems of the church; then came the priests, then the eikon, beneath which the miracles had been performed, and the people last. At stated intervals the procession paused, and prayers were offered in the streets.

I chanced soon after to meet one of the leading Greek doctors here, a personal friend, who gave me the following particulars of the so-called miracles, the accuracy of which I have since confirmed. He passed over two of the three as of entirely minor importance, and confined himself to the case of a Greek girl who has long been his patient. For eleven or twelve years this girl, suffering from paralysis, has been unable to leave her bed, and has lived with her brother; this brother, however, married recently, and last week practically turned her out of doors. But three nights ago, the girl saw the Madonna in a vision (this is her tale) beckoning her to the shrine dedicated to the Mother of Christ, which adjoins one of the churches; and, on the day following, she succeeded in dragging herself there, and spent the night within this shrine. In the morning she could walk erect, though her limbs were naturally weak and trembling after so many years’ disuse. These are the facts, and I ask myself if we have here the beginnings of yet another shrine where so-called miraculous cures are performed, such as that at Lourdes, or that on the island of Tenos in the Aegean.

As I have said above, the effect produced on the Greeks, extremely superstitious and fanatical about here, has been immense. The schools, and indeed everybody, kept holiday today in honour of the event, and one heard nothing else discussed even among the Turks. As I walked through the Greek quarter at dusk tonight, I was met by scores of cripples, of halt and maimed, and blind, and deaf and dumb, going or being carried to the shrine to spend the night; some in armchairs borrowed from the well-to-do, some carried on men’s backs (for Adalia does not boast conveyances on wheels), some led by their friends. I fear these poor people will pass a night of vain expectation; in fact, the priests already say that even as in the pool of Siloam the maimed were made whole only on the stirring of the waters, so will the miraculous power of the shrine at Adalia be exercised only at rare intervals. But whether it be manifested again or not, the offerings to the church today amount to between £30 and £40, which, considering the resources of the Christian community, is a considerable sum. — I am, Sir, &c.,

Adalia, Asia Minor, April 25. A.G.M. Dickson.