Saturday, May 2, 2015

The Miracle of Our Lady Theotokos in Kassiopi

From the Greek Synaxarion of the Orthodox Church,
Published by Bishop Mattheos Laggis, 5th Edition , Athens, 1994
Translated to English

On this day we celebrate the memory of the awesome miracle of our Most Holy Lady Theotokos and Ever-Virgin MARIAM which was effected through Her at Kassiopi* Holy Icon upon the unjustly blinded Stephanos and wondrously restored**.

Her child today a woman shows forth seeing,
Whom she did not see previously seeing.
On the 8th of May the eyes of a blind man
The Mother of God did restore.

Our Lady Theotokos in Kassiopi
            This awesome miracle of our Most Holy Lady Theotokos took place under the rule of Simonos Lionos Baïlos as Governor of the island of Kerkyra/ Corfu in Greece, in the year 1530. At that time a young man named Stephanos was returning from the capital to his village having accomplished his affairs. On the way he met other travelers with whom he walked along. When they were at a distance from the town, they came across some young men, who were returning from the mill carrying flour. Stephanos’ fellow travelers, being wicked and disposed to evil, said to one another: “What is there to prevent us from taking their flour and dividing it amongst ourselves? No one can see us”.
            Stephanos however, being a just man, immediately on hearing this, tried through many warnings, as much as he could, to obstruct them, saying that the plan which they were devising is a beastly deed, and if they execute it, they will not escape just punishment as thieves and evil-doers. They however, as an asp, closing their ears, did not pay heed to the advice, but instead even tried to incite Stephanos to collaborate with them in the robbery. He, by no means, accepted to consent. They, having beaten the young men, grabbed the flour from them and ran to their homes carrying the flour, rejoicing. The young men, when they returned to their homes empty-handed and in tears, recounted to their relatives what befell them. The relatives, having searched diligently learned who the thieves were and reported to the Governor the events.
Old Icon of the miracle
            Thus, amongst the other thieves was accused also Stephanos, because the young men who were robbed saw Stephanos walking with them, but they did not know that he tried to obstruct them and that he refused to assist them. Those guilty of the robbery, knowing their guilt, were hiding so that they may not be apprehended and punished by justice. Stephanos though, being innocent, was going openly and fearlessly to the capital. When he drew near the town however, he was arrested by the Governor’s soldiers and thrown in prison, then bound was led before the Governor for interrogation. When asked, he confessed all the truth and that he was only walking with the thieves, but did not take part in the robbery and that he was unjustly accused. But in vain. The words of the just Stephanos, to the judge seemed as lies; because the judge considered him a thief like the others.
            Condemned thus unjustly by the Governor, the guiltless Stephanos was called by him to choose which punishment he preferred, the deprivation of his eyes or the cutting off of his hands? Because it seemed to Stephanos as lighter punishment, the deprivation of his eyes, he chose this. Led then wailing and lamenting to the usual place of execution, they took out his eyes in the presence of the crowd. His mother, weeping and wailing following his blinding, took him to the church of St. Lazarus in order to beg for alms.
            However, because at that place most people mocked and reproached him, as supposedly justly suffering, because as a thief he took what belonged to another, whereas those who showed compassion on him were very few, he considered by Divine Providence, to go with his mother to the church of the Mother of God at the town called Kassiopi, which has a port and is at a distance of eighteen miles from the capital Kerkyra/Corfu***. Inside the church is a miraculous icon of our Most Holy Lady Theotokos. Because the port is suitable, the ships anchor there in reverence to our Most Holy Lady Theotokos. Thus Stephanos considered going there to stay and beg from the visitors who came to venerate at the church the icon of the Mother of God. His mother agreed to this.

Inside the Church of the Theotokos in Kassiopi
            Thus, they both arrived at the church of the Theotokos and after venerating the icon as is usual, they recounted with sighs and wailings to the residing monk the unjust misfortune which befell them, and the reason for their coming, requesting from him a small cell in which to stay; he replied, that until the brother returns, who keeps the key to the cell in which he was to settle them, they could stay in the church. Exhausted then from the journey, Stephanos’ mother slept.
            Stephanos however, unable to sleep from the pains, only dozed briefly. During the night, O Thy wonders, Our Most Holy Queen and Mother of God! He felt hands touching him and palpating his eyes, so that he awoke shouting and wondering who it was that touched him so forcefully. He saw a woman, most brilliant and all-filled with light, who shortly afterwards disappeared. He thought it was dream and not reality. Turning then he saw the oil-lamps lit and much astounded remained wondering how and what was that which happened. He then awakened his mother and said to her: “Who lit the oil-lamps?” She, thinking that her son is being deluded in his sleep, began wailing and telling him to be silent and go to sleep.
            Stephanos, however did not keep quiet, but insisted that he could really see the oil-lamps, and even the icon of the Mother of God and that he is not imagining what he is saying. He then recounted also what happened to him previously, and that he had called her, but she did not hear because she was asleep. Then his mother realizing that it is a Divine Intervention, immediately rose and looking with curiosity at Stephanos’ face, she noticed that he indeed had eyes and whereas previously he had dark brown ones, now he had blue. Thus, from her great joy and fear, she began shouting aloud and crying, praising and calling constantly upon the name of the Mother of God, as did her son, with whom she began clapping their hands magnifying our Most Holy Lady Theotokos.
The Shrine of our Lady Theotokos' Icon
in the Church in Kassiopi
           Hearing the shouts and noise, the church attendant monk and because they had woken prior to the appointed time, began to get angry and reproach them as unruly wicked people, saying that they had justly suffered. Stephanos and his mother were recounting the glories of God, whilst he wondering and disbelieving due to this fearful miracle entered the church. Astounded he saw the shortly previously blind man having eyes and seeing. Filled with divine zeal then he immediately left and went to the capital, where on finding the Governor at the Court of Justice, he began shouting and reproaching him as unlawful. Those present rushing and pushing the monk out, were saying to him: “What you are daring is unlawful, to speak insolently in the face of those in authority and to behave arrogantly in this way”. He however shouted aloud all the more: “If the administered to Stephanos punishment of blinding was not unjust, God would not have given him through the intercession of the Mother of God, new eyes.”  The Governor then sent some of his chosen men, who when they returned, said that the monk’s words were true. Having prepared the Governor’s ship, Baïlos went on board together with the leading men of Kerkyra/Corfu, and arriving at the place, they saw with their own eyes this great miracle and were much amazed, as is proper.
            Governor Baïlos however was still in doubt, thinking that it was not Stephanos or that he had not really been blinded, as the Jews thought about the blind man who was given eyes by the Lord Jesus Christ. The strangeness of the miracle did not permit the Governor and some others to believe straight away. Having returned to the capital, Baïlos called the executioner and said to him: “Did you take out Stephanos’ eyes as I decreed?” He, then certified that he truly had blinded him and that even the expelled eyes were still in a basin. These, he brought and showed to the Governor, who believed in this way, that this is a real miracle, especially after having seen that the eyes were of different colour from those which received the second time Stephanos; who also had the mark of the iron in his eye-brow and which was visible.

The entrance of the monastery of the Theotokos in Kassiopi
           Of course this remained by Divine Providence, so that the miracle be proclaimed and believed as indisputable, due to this mark and to the different appearance of the eyes. Because if the eyes were of the same colour, many would have said that the eyes were the same and that they had not really been taken out. Thus the miracle was proclaimed throughout the island of Kerkyra/Corfu and believed by all. Then Baïlos, called for Stephanos, asked for his forgiveness for the injustice, which he caused in ignorance, recompensed him with abundant gifts and having treated him with much kindness, sent him back to his house. Immediately afterwards he also restored the yard of the church of the Theotokos, with great care.
            Many then, weak in the Holy and Orthodox faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, were strengthened through this awesome miracle and also believed in those which are mentioned in the Holy Scriptures and which are believed in only through hearing, having seen them actually performed and realized in their own times. Those who remained in their lack of faith, not revering wondrous miracles, were put to shame, because having eyes, as says the Prophet Ezekiel, to see, they do not see and having ears to hear, they do not hear. (Ezek.12,2)
           Let us all then run to the light-giving Virgin and Mother of God Mariam in faith and piety, entreating Her to enlighten the eyes of our intellect/soul, so that we may not walk in the darkness of sin. And as having favour, to intercede for us to God born of Her, that He may deliver us from every temptation of the evil one and render us worthy of the Heavenly Kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ, to Whom is due glory, thankfulness, honour and worship together with His beginning-less Father and the All-Holy and Good and Life-giving Spirit, now and ever and onto ages of ages. Amen.

Procession with the Icon

Apolytikion of our Most Holy Lady Theotokos of Kassiopi (Kassopitras)
Tone 1- Citizen of the desert

            To the Monastery of our Lady at Kassiopi in Kerkyra of Greece, let us run forth to venerate Thy Holy icon O Mother of God. To the journeying on road and unjustly blinded Stephanos, Thou didst of old grant indeed new eyes, whereas now Thou dost enlighten those of the heart, rendering bright shining those who praise Thee in hymns. Hail O divine Gate of the Light; Hail O Altar of Life: Hail O Haven of the Just, Thou Harbor of Peace.

Kondakion from Supplicatory Canon (Paraklisis)
Tone 2- O Protection of Christians
            The Crown of befitting motherly compassion, the Sea of blessing and goodness, Thou art in the mercies of Thy unutterable tenderness; wherefore the motherly womb of Thy heart, in sympathy towards us, do Thou be well-pleased to open, O Lady of Kassiopi, Thou the Good Fortune of Kerkyra in Greece, the Haven of the World, the Assurance of Peace.


            O the miracle most wondrous and dreadful, strange, huge; for Stephanos the blinded, of a different look eyes did receive, by the Mother of God, whom we magnify.

* Kassiopi- village-town on the North-Eastern sea-coast of the island of Kerkyra/Corfu.
** This was taken from the Service titled “Hymnologidion” published in Venice in 1724.
*** The capital of the island of Kerkyra/Corfu is also called Kerkyra/Corfu.