April 21, 2020

Panagia Portaitissa and the Healing of a Man Dying of the Spanish Flu

At Athens there was a family, surnamed Melissourgos. In the month of May, in the year 1920, a member of this family, one named Elias, who was even a public prosecutor by profession, fell gravely ill with influenza and pneumonia. His condition was in a crisis. Physicians were making the rounds, attempting to heal that for which there was no cure at that time. Hence, while Elias contended, he also awaited death. His mother, nevertheless, perceived there was no benefit to be had from the attending physicians. She also saw the fixed and fast coming appointment with death for her son. She chose not to despair, but, as all Christians do, she took refuge in divine aid. She prostrated herself, with all her heart, before the Most Holy Theotokos, imploring her to heal her son. She adorned her home prayer corner with a copy of the Iveron Portaitissa icon, which she placed on high. The icon had been the gift of a visiting priest from the Holy Mountain.

As the disease progressed and worsened, the family fell into a hopeless state. The medicine prescribed by the doctors proved useless. Hence, despair was mounting. Family members had sorrowful and downcast faces. It was only the mother of Elias who kept vigil by her son's bedside, constantly encouraging him. She saw no improvement, but kept receiving information from all quarters that such a disease leads to death. The account made her shiver. She, too, started to succumb to faintheartedness. Then, with a contrite heart, she rallied and kneeled before her icons. Tears welled in her eyes as she kept constant in prayer to our Lady, the Keeper of the Gates, to preserve her bedridden son.

The all-pure Lady, hearing the mother's supplication made with all her soul, granted the salvation of her son in a marvelous manner. The following day, early in the morning, when the mother arose, she first went to visit her son. The former stricken Elias appeared to be very well. The day before he was infirm and bound in bed, but now he was up and about the house, walking into the morning room. The joy of the mother was unspeakable. The day of her son's recovery was cause for a splendid feast of thanksgiving. Grief and sorrow had been erased from the family countenances. Kindred came calling, at which time the grateful mother kept proclaiming that death passed over her house according to the grace of the Portaitissa.

Indeed, the Theotokos took pity on the widow of ten years, who had one son and one daughter. In recognition and appreciation of the blessing she received, the mother donated a gold bracelet to the monastery by means of Hieromonk Polycarp, a member of the Iveron brotherhood. According to the mother's instructions, the bracelet was fixed to the Virgin's hand in her icon.