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December 20, 2019

The Second Finding of the Holy Icon of the Panagia Evangelistria in Tinos on December 18, 1842

The Church of the Panagia Evangelistria on the island of Tinos was built over the location where the wonderworking icon of the Panagia was discovered on January 30, 1823 after she revealed the location to the nun Saint Pelagia. This is considered the first finding of the icon.

On December 15, 1842 the icon was stolen by an ex-convict Christodoulos Dimitriadis when he was passing through Tinos. He saw the icon covered in offerings of precious jewels and gold like it is today, and realized how valuable it was. That evening Dimitriadis decided to hide in one of the overhanging balconies, waiting for the church to close. At around midnight he lowered himself by a rope and fled with the chalice, altar utensils, and the wonderworking icon. He transferred the icon to the village Ysternia and he buried it there, while the valuable offerings he took with him and he went to the western part of the island in order to escape.

When the loss was discovered the following morning, church bells tolled mournfully throughout the island, announcing the theft. Patrols were organized in all the villages, and every available ship circled the island to prevent the thief's escape. Dimitriadis was caught at noon drinking from a spring, trying to escape with his stolen goods across the narrow straits separating Tinos and Andros by a quarter-mile. He had tried to convince some sailors to take him there, but they couldn't agree on a price.

When he was caught he was brought before the governor of Tinos for questioning, and Dimitriadis confessed the theft and he indicated the spot where he had buried the holy icon. The recovery of the icon on December 18th was a cause of general rejoicing and the Megalochari (She Who Is Full Of Grace) was triumphantly returned to its place in the Cathedral, with the full honors of a procession followed by the people. This is considered the second finding of the icon. Since this finding, when not on display, the Megalochari is locked away in a safe. As for Dimitriadis, he was locked away in prison for many years.

Till this day, every 18th of December, the island of Tinos celebrates this second finding of the holy icon. Where the second finding was made in Ysternia, a church was built called Panagia Evangelistraki, or the Little Panagia Evangelistria. On the anniversary of the feast the icon is processed to this church where it is venerated.