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Thursday, December 9, 2021

The Miraculous Icon of Saint Anna in Vori of Marmara


In the beautiful coastal Corinthian city of Aigio, a group of uprooted Greeks were transplanted in 1922 after the terrible Asia Minor Catastrophe.

The refugees in Aigio built, with effort and struggle, starting from scratch, their new life. The Aegean refugees came from Proikonisos, where there were then five villages: Aloni, Vori, Skoupia and Houchlia. Leaving while persecuted, the pious people of Proikonisos took with them above all the precious objects of their churches, holy icons, holy utensils, etc. Even their children show special love for these sacred relics.

They had a shrine on their Island. The shrine of Saint Anna in Vori. The fame of this shrine of Saint Anna had spread throughout the surrounding area. Apart from the locals, the inhabitants of the opposite Asia Minor beach maintained a special reverence for this place. The villages of Artaki, Roda, Gonia, etc. are especially mentioned, as well as the inhabitants of the surrounding Islands, all the so-called Bougazians up to Constantinople.

The houses of Vori were scattered in a circle in the port and in the background, up to 130 Christian houses and 15 Turkish ones. The Turks spoke Greek. They also went to Saint Anna but the priest did not cense them and did not give them antidron or holy water. But they brought candles to Saint Anna.

The Church of Saint Anna was built on the beach in the area of a large square with tall plane trees and a well. The waves hit both sides of it when it was high tide. As a relatively small church, it was a shrine, not a parish church. Christians liked to call it a Monastery. It had a separate administration because as a shrine it had a lot of traffic and a lot of income. Especially at the festival of Saint Anna (July 25), a large number of pilgrims gathered from the villages of Proikonisos, from the opposite Asia Minor beach (about 20 villages), from the surrounding Islands and from Constantinople. The festival lasted for days. The port was full of small boats, sails, boats of all kinds full of pilgrims.

They came to venerate the miraculous icon of Saint Anna. This icon was revealed in very old times in the place where the church was, there on the beach in a lush mulberry tree. It was probably hidden there by Christians during a time of persecution and trial. 

Today the miraculous icon of Saint Anna from Vori is located in Lemnos, where many of the refugees settled. Miracles continue there as well as in Aigio through the intercessions of Saint Anna.
 
The Finding of the Icon

The tradition for the finding of this icon states the following:

A young princess from Persia suffered from leprosy and was completely blind. This maiden saw in her dream a modest and imposing woman who told her:

"Go to Vori, and look in the mulberry trees. You will find my icon there and you will become well. I am Saint Anna."

Then she saw a landscape. A lush mulberry tree on a beach. She told about the dream to her family, without much hesitation, as she had lost hope in doctors, so she decided with her entourage to start for Vori, which she did not know where it was. With much effort and suffering, this sick maiden arrived in Constantinople, hoping to find out where the village indicated by Saint Anna, unknown to her, was that she saw in her sleep. Her hopes came alive when in Constantinople, she was informed that the village of Vori is located on a nearby island. With much longing, after five hours of sea voyage, she stepped on the beach of Vori. Then the miracle happened. The maiden's blind eyes were opened and her sight was restored. She easily recognized the landscape with the tree on the beach, as she had in her dream. They searched there in the lush mulberry trees and found the icon hidden in the pit of a stone. With deep emotion she embraced the sacred object. From that moment she felt the evil of leprosy leave her. She became perfectly well. She left for her homeland now a Christian, full of gratitude.

In that place was built, probably at the expense of the maiden who was healed, the church, the shrine of Saint Anna. Among the offerings of the icon, the crown of the young princess from Persia had a special place. This crown is remembered by all the old inhabitants.

The miracles of Saint Anna at this shrine are innumerable. Usually the sick were brought by a family member to the shrine, where they spent up to forty nights, and participated in the daily liturgies and services, while they kept a strict fast, and when the forty days were completed the healing would come.

Until 1923, the island was inhabited by an almost purely Greek population. During the Asia Minor Catastrophe, the approximately 10,000 inhabitants were expatriated.

The Turkish Man Who Was Baptized a Christian

From Marmara they had brought a madman to Saint Anna to make him well. He had madness, of a great degree. His own were in danger near him. Many times he had plunged his mother into the sea and was in danger of drowning her. At the time when the priest chanted the sanctification service for holy water, the sick person usually held the icon in his arms. In one case the icon left his arms and stood horizontally on his head. With invisible force the sick man walked towards the sea with the icon on his head. As he was walking, a Turk happened to be on his way. To the Turk it seemed funny what was happening and he said contemptuously:

- "The infidels have a stick and it hits them."

At the same time the icon left the sick man and fell on the Turk, who was struck by fear and shouted loudly:

- "I believe in you and I venerate you, Saint Anna, I have sinned, forgive me."

After this incident, full of defeat, the Turk asked the priest what offering was good to bring to her grace. The incident spoke to his heart, brought about a profound change and he decided to accept Holy Baptism and become a Christian. But the sick man from Marmara also left healed by the grace of the Blessed Mother of the Mother of God. 


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