Saturday, May 7, 2016

The Miracle of Our Lady of the Living Spring
in Her monastery in Loggovarda.

   Here below is an account of one of the miracles that Our Lady of the Living Spring had performed in her monastery in Loggovarda through her servant the abbot of the monastery Elder Philotheous*.
   On May 14 1944, an English submarine bad docked at an inlet behind the city of “Livadi” and some soldiers debarked and went up to the village of “Tsibido” where they captured 7 German soldiers while the Germans slept, killing 2 Germans and wounding the airport commissioner, Lieutenant Tabe, and 2 wires were found cut. In the morning, the Ger­mans captured a youth named “N. Stellas” at the airport, and suspecting him to be an accomplice; they hung him from a pole on a high place so that his corpse could be seen from all the neighboring villages to frighten them. The army commissioner, “Grafonbereyberg”, demanded that the presidents of the committees of Paros and Antiparos hand over one hundred and twenty five youths to him by an appointed day for execution.
   The presidents of all the communities and the parish priests along with the abbot of the monastery of Loggovarda, Father Philotheos Zervakos, went to the town of Tsibido to the home of the good, philanthropic doctor, “Efstratios Alibranti”. They held a meeting and decided to go to the commissioner together and ask him to alter his decision, and thus turn the island's great grief into ineffable joy and gladness. However, they were informed that the commissioner had previously announced that no one could go to him as a mediator for his decision was unalterable. The committee then formed a group consisting of the Abbot Philotheos Zervakos, Dr. Alibranti and Mr. Emmanuel Kavally, the President of the community of Archilochos, who went to Lieutenant “Zasse”, the commander of the garrison, to ask him to mediate on their behalf to the commissioner , However, the Commander told them, “I have already asked the commissioner not to murder the completely innocent men but the commissioner severely threatened me, telling me not to mention anything more about this; and that anyone who dared to became a mediator would be punished in a very exemplary manner. “The only thing I advise you to do”, the commander told the group, “is to have the abbot invite him to the monastery and offer him Special hospitality, and along with this, mention those who were sentenced to death. He will probably accept mediation be­cause - I have told him many good things about the monastery and he listened with pleasure.”
Elder Philotheos abbot of the Monastery of
Our Lady of the Living Spring in  Loggovarda.
   The abbot did not lose any time: he immediately invited the Commissioner to visit the monastery, and as soon as the commissioner received the Abbot's invitation, he informed the abbot by telephone that he would come to the monastery the following day, Sunday July 23rd, with 6 other of­ficers and soldiers.
   On Sunday morning, he arrived by automobile at a point half an hour away from the monastery, and pack animals were sent to bring them to the monastery. They arrived at about 8 a.m. in the morning. In the beginning, the Commissioner gave the appearance of being wild, rude and cruel, but little by little with the good treatment and kind manner of the abbot and brethren he became calmer and behaved more amiably.
   He came down to the Vesper service in the ev­ening with his other officers and soldiers and observed the holy service. At the end of the ser­vice the monks chanted a supplication service to the Lady Theotokos and a petition was said for the salvation of the brothers who were to be ex­ecuted. After the supplication service, they came out of the Holy Church and prepared to leave. The abbot was thinking of how and in what manner he could ask and convince the commissioner to grant life to those who were sentenced to death.
   But, Oh Queen of the Universe (Pantanassa), Mother of God, Divine Lifegiving Font, by your infinite philanthropy and compassion!. Before the abbot opened his mouth to ask him, the commissioner told the abbot through his translator to ask him a favor. The abbot, amazed, took courage and first asked that all the officers go out, and he remained alone with the commissioner and the translator.
   He thanked the commissioner first, and with courage and boldness, he told his translator, "First I want the commissioner to promise that he will grant the favor that I will ask, and then I will ask it." The commissioner gave his right and promised to grant the requested favor. And then the abbot said, "I want him to spare the lives of those innocent people who are sentenced to death, because it is unjust and unlawful for those at fault and responsible not to be punished while the innocent ones are put to death." The commissioner then said, "Ask for a different favor be­cause I cannot grant this one: I know that it is unjust, but it does not depend on me; I am under orders by my superiors that when a German is mur­dered, 50 Greeks chosen from those living closest to the spot of the crime are to be executed. If I do not follow these orders, I myself will be executed so ask for another favor." The abbot told him, "Since you promised me, you ought to grant me this favor."
   However, seeing, (through the translator), that the commissioner would not yield, the abbot told the translator, "Since he will not grant me this favor, let him count me among those who are to be sentenced to death and I will consider this the great favor." The commissioner was then mov­ed. He gave his hand to the abbot and told him, "I grant them to you: only warn all the inhabi­tants of the islands not to allow anything like this to happen again and not to cut our wires; for I will then be merciless." The abbot gave him his promise, and the commissioner departed from the monastery peaceful, pleased and very enthusiastic.
Elder Philotheos Zervakos.
   This, without a doubt, was a miracle on the part of the Lady Theotokos. Yes, the abbot and  the monks of the monastery did that which they ought to have done as much as possible, caring for the commissioner and flattering him, knowing that according to the wise Solomon even a beast becomes tame when flattered; and the commissioner both in appearance and in soul, resembled a wild beast.
   But the Lady Theotokos, the Mother of God and spiritual mother of all Christians; the Mother of pain, of charity, and of compassion; the protec­tion, hope, and salvation of all who take refuge in her and place their hope in her, felt the pain and grief of the mothers, the relatives and the friends of those who were sentenced to death (the whole island had sunk into great grief, for one was losing his child, another his brother, or his relative, his friend, or his fellow countryman). She saw their grief, their tears and their moaning; She saw the injustice and heard their peti­tions; She heard the fervent supplications of the monks and the abbot-the spiritual father of the sentenced men, who as spiritual father, grieved more than anyone else for the unjust death of his spiritual children. Thus, She tamed and calmed the heart of that wild and bloodthirsty beast and through her mediation to her God and Son she granted life and salvation to one hundred and twenty-five souls. The Church rightly chants, "No one who hastens to you leaves empty-handed, O Pure Virgin Theotokos, but they ask the favor and receive the gift for the benefit of the request."
   The Holy Orthodox Church celebrates the feast of Our Lady of the Living-Spring on Friday of the Bright Week after Pascha.

* Blessed Elder Archimandrite Philotheos Zervakos of Loggovarda (1884-1980) is a well known 20th century elder, from Paros island, and spiritual son of St. Nektarios of Aegina. He was imprisoned twice by the Turks during the final years of the Ottoman occupation of Thessaloniki and many have witnessed the saint to "float/walk on air", and he has performed many miracles in his lifetime and after his repose on the 8th of May 1980.


Palis N., Chaffee J.& D. (1986), The Blessed Elder Philotheos Zervakos (1884-1980), Orthodox Kypseli Publications.