Celebrating the Construction of the Most Important Pilgrimage Centre in Modern Greece
The Festival of the Finding of the Holy Icon ('Eorte Agias Eureseos) or the Lanterns (Phanarakia)
Keywords:Greece, Festival, Icon, Panagia (the All-Holy One), Ritual Finding, Lanterns
After several mystical visions of the nun, Pelagia, the holy icon of the Annunciation of the Panagia (“the All-Holy One”, or the Virgin Mary) was found on the island of Tinos in 1823. According to tradition, Pelagia repeatedly witnessed the Panagia in her visions and received orders from her to find the icon and also to build her church. The icon was unearthed in the field where it had remained since the church, built on the ruins of a pagan temple, was destroyed in the tenth century. Two years before the icon was found, the Greek War of Independence broke out. The finding of the icon, the construction of the Church of the Annunciation of the Panagia, the enormous crowds of pilgrims, and the miracles worked by the icon, contributed to the outcome that the island was declared a sacred island, and Pelagia became sanctified. The ritual year of the miraculous icon on Tinos starts on 30 January with the festival dedicated to the Finding of the Holy Icon when the finding is ritually re-enacted, before it is carried in a procession repeating the first procession after the finding. After worshipping the tombs of the builders of the church, the celebration terminates with a popular ritual called the Phanarakia (lanterns), in which children are the main participants, running around in the streets of Tinos town while holding multicoloured lighted lamps, and singing hymns commemorating the finding of the holy icon. This article presents the festival and delves into its meaning and importance for the Greek people.
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