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Panagia's Miracles in the History of Hellenism

Panagia's miracles

On the occasion of the public holiday August 15th, Greeks all over the country are awaiting to celebrate one of Christianity’s most significant days, the Dormition of the Virgin Mary. Some call this day “the summer Easter” to actually highlight the significance of this celebration, while thousands of people attend religious services throughout the country.
Panagia is a holy figure for Greeks not only because she gave birth to Jesus but because worshipers have connected Her with the Greek nation’s freedom during some hard times, apart from the miracles recorded in many personal cases as well. As a result, the mother of Jesus has been given several different names all over Greece as locals wanted to thank the Virgin Mary for her aid in some of the woes they faced. It’s the same holy figure, having taken different names, though.
The best known and most significant historic event occurred in 626, when Constantinople was besieged by the Avars while Emperor Heraclius and his troops were campaigning against the Persians in Asia Minor. The icon of the Virgin Blachernitissa was carried along the battlements in a procession headed by the son of the absent Emperor and Patriarch Sergius (610-638). The Avars raised the siege and the saving of the City was attributed to the direct intervention of the Mother of God. The entire population gathered at the church with the famous icon and in an all-night vigil they sang standing the Akathistos Hymn in praise of the Virgin Mary.
Our Lady of Tinos is the major Marian shrine in Greece. It is located on the Greek island of Tinos. Adding to modern religious miracles, the Italian submarine Delfino torpedoed the light cruiser ELLI as it was anchored off the Tinos harbor on 15 August 1940, at 8:25 am. The attack came with no warning during a time of peace. From the shore thousands of  faithfuls watched the spectacular explosions and mourned as nine sailors met their watery death on a day that pushed Greece closer to conflict with Italy and the eventual joining of WWII on the side of the allies. A monument to the horrific fate of the cruiser and its crew is prominently displayed on the harbor of Tinos town today. Following the tradition, on August 15, the last survivors of the crew of the Greek destroyer Elli are always present that day. Moreover, the national Hellenic Navy always sends warships to Tinos on August 15, because Panagia represents the intimate and hazardous relations of Greeks with the sea. This is undoubtedly a great honor for the Hellenic Navy, as it is “under the protection of the Virgin, and the salvation of Greece always comes from the sea.”
On 8 September 1943, the day Greeks celebrate the Nativity of the Theotokos, the Italians capitulated and in the beginning denied to surrender their weapons to their German allies. In Orchomenos of Boetia the regional organization E.A.M. felt they could capitalize on this and accept the Italian arms. The Italians refused this and went with their weapons to Livadia. On the way, the Germans surrounded them and disarmed them, and the Italians betrayed the people of Orchomenos by giving away their intentions.
When the Germans became aware of the latter’s intentions, they sent against them the next day, September 9, armored vehicles. When the people of Orchomenos heard this, they left and arrived at the crossroads of Agios Andreas, unprepared and disorganized as they were, and scattered throughout the surrounding area to the most remote Dionysus (Tsamaliou).
When the Germans entered Orchomenos they took 600 hostages, left a section in the village, and sent three tanks against the rest to Dionysus. On the night of the 9th towards the 10th of September, at around midnight, about 550 meters away from the Byzantine Church of the Panagia Skripou (874 AD), the three German tanks were immobilized for no apparent reason. As the German commander known as Hoffman later recounted, the form of a woman appeared in the night sky with her hand raised in a prohibitive stance. Commander Hoffman then requested a tractor to pull the tanks, and he beheld another miracle when the tractor was able to easily pull the heavy tanks like an empty matchbox. He then proclaimed “miracle! miracle!” and asked the residents to take him into the church. From the icon in the church the commander recognized the woman to be the Virgin Mary. He fell down on his knees and said, “This woman saved you! You must honor her and glorify her!”
Orchomenos was indeed saved by Panagia and the 600 hostages were freed with a vow by the commander that the village would not be harmed. Following the war, Commander Hoffman returned to the Church of Panagia Skripou, donating an icon of the vision he saw along with an large oil lamp. Just about every year he returned on September 10 to commemorate the event and light a candle in the church. For this reason the Panagia Skripou celebrates a feast on September 10 every year. A procession takes place with the icon on this day to the spot where the tanks were immobilized.

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