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August 31, 2020

The Cholera Epidemic of Constantinople in 1871 and the Holy Zoni of the Panagia

In the year 1871 the city of Constantinople was plagued by a cholera epidemic that had traveled south from Russia and left thousands dead. In November, Patriarch Anthimos VI and the Holy Synod, after prayer, addressed a letter to the Holy Monastery of Vatopaidi on Mount Athos in order to bring the sacred relic of the Holy Zoni to the City to bring the grace and the blessing of the Panagia to the people under trial. The cholera was raging and the people had no other hope than the Panagia.

The Patriarch was aware of the history of the Holy Zoni, how it helped eradicate plagues before, and out of paternal care for the mental, but also the physical health and salvation of his spiritual children in Constantinople, and in order to drive away the plague of cholera, he corresponded with Vatopaidi Monastery, so that the Holy Zoni can be transported quickly and by steamer, since its most obvious miraculous power had been ascertained many times and in difficult circumstances and on the basis of indisputable testimonies and proofs.

On November 13th the monks of Vatopaidi held an all-night vigil for the people. When the Holy Zoni of the Most Holy Theotokos arrived in Constantinople at the Patriarchal Church of Saint George on November 25th, thousands of people flocked to greet it and venerated it, praying for a miracle. Even Turkish soldiers had to draw out their swords from their sheaths to threaten the large crowd from over-crowding. Thousands gathered, flooding the streets, and they were crushing one another. Not a single man, woman, child, old man or old woman or the middle-aged were afraid of the beast of cholera to prevent them from going out with joy to welcome and venerate the Holy Zoni of the Panagia.

All the clergy had put on their best vestments to greet the relic of the Mother of God, and no one was scared that put their full trust and faith in the Mother of all Christians. As long as the Holy Zoni was near them, the people stood vigilantly nearby. No one hesitated, no one had second thoughts, no one was found to think that the arrival of the Holy Zoni and the gathering of the people to the streets of Constantinople should not be allowed due to the spread of cholera, but on the contrary, it had to be done to eliminate it. And indeed it was soon completely eradicated.