The “miracle snakes” of Panagia appeared once again in the village of Markopoulo on the island of Kefalonia in Greece, just days before the Feast of the Dormition of the Virgin Mary on August 15th.
According to the news website Kefaloniapress, the first snake appeared on Monday night, on the eve of the feast of the Transfiguration of Christ, at the Virgin Mary of Lagouvarda Church in Markopoulo.
The church is also called “Panagia Fidousa,” meaning “Panagia of the Snakes” by the local people. Church officials announced that the building will now be open for pilgrimages from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm every day.
Shortly after the first snakes were spotted at the Markopoulo church, two “snakes of Panagia” also appeared in the village of Arginia, also on Kefalonia. Village residents reported that the snakes appeared in the same place where they have been appearing for decades.
The two “Snakes of the Virgin Mary” in Arginia were transported to the respective Church of the Virgin Mary in the village and await viewing by the pilgrims.
The snakes are small and gray, measuring no longer than one meter (3.3 feet). They appear annually in the church, especially around the icon of the Panagia. Unlike most snakes, their skin is velvety and their heads, like the tip of their tongues, form a small cross. They are known to be unafraid of humans and are considered friendly.
Locals eagerly await the emergence of the snakes every year, and tradition dictates that if they do not show up, something unfortunate will happen. The “Snakes of the Virgin Mary” have failed to appear only twice: The first time was in August of 1940, shortly before the outbreak of World War II, and the second time was in August 1953, when Kefalonia suffered a tremendously destructive earthquake.
According to tradition, in 1200 AD, pirates raided the island and tried to take over a convent full of nuns. Innumerable snakes then appeared, entangling the bodies of the pirates and forming a wall between them and the convent. Understandably, the pirates panicked and fled after this occurrence.
Every year since that time, the “Snakes of Our Lady” have made a miraculous appearance every August. More snakes are expected to appear in the Kefalonian cities of Markopoulo as well as in Arginia by the 15th of August.
The faithful are invited to visit the Virgin Mary of Lagouvarda Church in Markopoulo every August to worship as well as to view and even touch the snakes, which are allowed to move freely inside the church.