Sunday, August 7, 2016

The Church of the Virgin Mary and the Snakes (Panagia Fidousa)

One of the most famous churches not only in Kefalonia, but in the whole of Greece, is Panagia Fidoussa, the Orthodox Church of the Virgin Mary and the snakes. Around the time of the Dormition of the Mother of God (15th August) small, harmless snakes come to this church. These snakes have four dots on their head in the shape of a cross. They appear in around and in the church between 6th and 16th August every year. It is funny how every year the Greek news examine this curious event, showing how the snakes do not bite, but are rather friendly and harmless.

According to a legend it all started from a bush that was seen burning in Loggos. Approaching it in order to extinguish the fire, they saw that only one tree was burnt and the icon of the Mother of God was in its roots. They brought it to the village church but the next day the icon was missing! They found it again in the same place. This was repeated a number of times; therefore, they realised that it was a divine sign. A Church was built there. Over the years a nunnery, dedicated to the Virgin Mary was established there. Again, according to legend, once pirates threatened the abbey. After the prayers of the monks, snakes encircled the monastery and repelled the threat! The miracle is repeated every year since then. This is how Tradition explains the appearance of snakes at this Church. If the snakes do not appear this is considered a very bad sign. Interestingly enough this has happened in the past (example in 1953) when Kefalonia was hit by devastating earthquakes resulting in the destruction of many buildings, villages and towns on the Ionian island. 

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