Ijov’s Blog

March 21, 2011

Miraculous icon of Archangel Michael of Panormitis

Archangel Michael of Panormitis

Icon of Arch. Michael “Panormitis”

Archangel Michael of Panormitis (Gr. O Πανορμίτης) refers to a miraculous icon of the Archangel Michael on the island of Symi and is one of the four miraculous icons of the Archangel in the Dodecanese of Greece.

Monastery of the Taxiarchis

Symi island of the Dodecanese, Greece, is situated in southeast Aegean sea and northwest of Rhodes. While touring around the island you will see many churches and monasteries devoted to the Archangel Michael. The Greek Orthodox Monastery of Taxiarchis Mihail Panormitis is the most important on the island and second largest in the Dodecanese after the monastery of St John the Theologian in Patmos.

The monastery is located on the south end of Symi, situated on the sea front of the tiny village of Panormitis. It is a closed in cove with a small sandy beach, protected by a narrow inlet that opens out into a wide harbour. The mountainous backdrop is covered with pine trees which give the area an ambiance of solitude.

The monastery is a large 18th-century Venetian styled building with the highest baroque bell tower in the world. The facade of the main structure is white and it stretches along the coast on either side of the main gateway. In excellent condition, the Italians constructed these two rows of buildings after World War II. These buildings now contain holiday flats that can be rented by tourists visiting the monastery and also contain a bakery among other things.

Once inside the monastery main gate, visitors are welcomed by an inner courtyard, decorated with exotic trees and plants, and paved with ‘hokhlakia’. The church dedicated to the Panormiti is on the left and inside contains the 2-metre high, silver-leafed, wall icon of the Panormiti. The entire church interior is covered with iconography (of particular interest is the ‘fall of the angels’ mural at the back of the church) and is decorated with very elaborate chandeliers.

Monastery of Arch. Michael “Panormitis” (Symi, Greece)

The exact historical date of the construction of this church remains unknown but some suggest that it was built around 450 AD over the site of an ancient temple dedicated to the pagan god Apollo. It is known for certainty that the existing church underwent a major renovation in the 18th century to bring it to the standard that is in existence today.

The monastery has two museums. One houses ecclesiastical art, and is rich in exhibits like pontificals, silver icons, Russian epitaphs and ecclesiastical utensils, ship model offerings brought to Panormitis from far away by the sea, and one of folk art with important objects of the folk culture of the island, relevant to fishing, agriculture and shepherding. There is also a library with Byzantine manuscripts and editions of ecclesiastical, historical and philological content, as well as a gallery with paintings of the landscape of the monastery and its two chapels. There is also memorial to a former abbot, two monks and two teachers, who in 1944, were executed for running a spy radio for the British commandoes.

The monastery receives heaps of day-trippers from Rhodes, so if you really want to enjoy it in peace and quiet it is best to wait until they have gone. The monastery’s dorm-house can host up to 500 people. The only way to get to the monastery is via a ferry or excursion boat. If you are already on the island, there is a road that exists between the monastery and the town of Symi. This can take over six hours to walk or an hour using a local bus service or rented scooter.
Panormitis Icon

Arch. Michael “Panormitis”

In the church is the famous icon of the Archangel Michael Panormitis, who is not only considered the island’s patron saint but also the guardian of sailors in the entire Dodecanese area.

One story is that this icon appeared miraculously and, on several occasions, was removed only to reappear mysteriously in this same location. The church was then built over the location, which, other sources suggest, was also a template to Apollo.

Folklore and tradition

According to legend, if you ask a favour from Archangel Michael, you must promise to give something in return.
The tradition of the broom offering
The locals of the Dodecanese are known to have offered a traditional broom. Church tradition has passed down that monks from the monastery would hear the Saint sweeping his monastery at night with this broom offerings. Local tradition has passed down that many would be visited by the Archangel in their sleep who would ask them for the brooms.

Fulfil your promise … or else …

The Archangel Michael is famous in the Dodecanese for his righteous nature. If you have made an offering to him and do not fulfull it, he will make it clear through various miracles that he is not pleased – until you complete your promise. One famous miracle that occurs often and to this day, is the miracle of the Archangel preventing the boats from leaving the dock. This has become such a regular occurance, that the Captains of the boat will announce over the PA to the passengers that someone on the boat has forgotten a promise to the Taxiarch. Once this promise is fulfilled, then and only then does the boat’s engines work.

Message in a bottle

Another item of interest is the bottles with prayers inside. The origin’s of this tradition are owed to the Greek sailors, who would cast these into the sea and would end up, mysteriously, on the shoreline of the monastery.
Today, many believers still practise this tradition. If you visit the museum these messages have been kept for anyone to read.

As a result of these traditions, the inside of the church is decorated with an array of gifts given by the devout pilgrims. There have been so many of these gifts that a lot of them can be viewed in the museum and include model ships made from gold and silver. The monastery is also filled with wonderful paintings, carvings and icons depicting various saints.
Other churches of Archangel Michael in Symi

If visiting the island of Symi for this monastery, it is also worthwhile visiting the monasteries of Roukounioti, also dedicated to the Archangel Michael and the Monastery of Kokkimidis. The Monastery of Roukounioti has remarkable murals dating from the 14th century. The Monastery of Kokkimidis, on the other hand, is a old Byzantine monastery renovated in 1697.

Other monasteries of interest include the Monastery of Sotiros and of Stavros Polemou which are on the west coast of the island. Most of the churches on this island are dedicated to the Archangel Michael.

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March 11, 2011

Wonders of Saint Takla Haymonot of Ethiopia

The great saint, Abba Takla Haymanot has a very prominent position in the Coptic Orthodox Church. The church celebrates an annual feast to commemorate the greatness of this Ethiopian saint – August 31.

Saint Takla Haymanot of Ethiopia

Saint Takla Haymanot of Ethiopia

Life, ministry and miracles

His father was an Ethiopian priest who loved Archangel Michael and his mother was a rich and righteous woman who also loved Archangel Michael. Together, they always celebrated the archangel’s feast on the twelfth of each month. After many years of prayer and supplications a son, “Feseha Zion” (the joy of Zion) was born into this family, for St. Takla’s mother was barren until his birth.

The tidings of Archangel Michael were fulfilled when he said to Tsega Ze-Ab, Feseha Zion’s father, “You will be the father of a child who will be an apostle in Ethiopia.” His parents were overjoyed with his birth and celebrated by having a feast inviting the poor. Three days after his birth, the Holy Spirit descended upon Fesha Zion and the infant opened his mouth and said, “One is the Holy Father. One is the Holy Son. One is the Holy Spirit.”

Since childhood, Feseha Zion performed many miracles. One such famous miracle occurred at the age of eighteen months. A famine had spread throughout the land of his family. As a result of the famine, Tsega Ze-Ab and his wife had nothing to celebrate the feast of their beloved Archangel Michael.

One day while Fesha Zion was being nursed he pointed to the flour basket, which was completely empty. His devout mother brought it to him and immediately when he touched the basket it became filled with flour. Basket after basket was placed before him until twelve overflowed with flour. She then decided to bring the oil jar to him. Fesha Zion placed his hand inside the jar and made the sign of the cross. Oil began to fill the jar. From this jar the mother poured oil into other jars until there was plenty for their monthly agape for the needy in honor of Archangel Michael.

St. Takla Haymanot

When he was fifteen years old his reverent father took him to the Bishop of Amhara, Bishop Kyrillos, who saw a vision from God to ordain Feseha Zion a deacon. As a deacon he continued to perform miracles and began to heal the sick. Many confessed him to be a god, but he told them that only the One True God is worthy of honor, praise and worship.

One day while hunting with friends, Archangel Michael appeared unto deacon Feseha Zion and told him to dedicate the rest of his life to saving people’s souls. The Archangel further told him that God would bestow upon him the ability to cure many illnesses, raise the dead, and cast out evil spirits in His Holy Name. It was then that Archangel Michael changed his name to Takla Haymanot, which means, “Paradise of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.”

St. Takla returned home and distributed all his money among the poor. Soon thereafter, Bishop Cyril ordained him the priest of Shewa (Shoa). St. Takla focused his attention on the spiritual welfare of those around him. He preached the Holy Gospel of repentance and forgiveness of sins. He continually cured the sick and performed many miracles. As a result of the holiness of this man many were converted to Christianity.

He drove out evil spirits, cast our demons, he converted kings. St. Takla was bestowed with many gifts from the Lord. He raised the dead and could foretell events and quietly tell true prophecies. He labored among the hardest of tasks in the monasteries he dwelt with thanksgiving. He escaped from all praise. He continually led a life of devoutness-fasting, praying, chanting and kneeling before the Lord Jesus Christ.
Why St. Takla’s icon depicts him with six wings

One of the most famous of stories related to this saint is of his abiding in the Monastery of Abba Aragawi at the top of a very high, steep mountain. After living some time at this remote monastery, an angel of the Lord appeared to St. Takla and told him to go down to the base of the mountain and dwell in a cave to be found there. He bid the abbot of the monastery and the monks’ farewell, requesting their prayers and began his descent from the top of the towering mountain. As was the custom, the monks tied the saint with a rope to aid in his descent from the peak of the mountaintop. The rope broke suddenly and the monks feared the worst. Instantly and miraculously, six wings appeared from the saint and flew him safely and swiftly to the base of the mountain. Due to this miracle St. Takla’s icon features him with six beautiful white wings like the Cherubim.

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