Tinos, Greece: Panagia Evaggelistria, Our Lady of Tinos (“the Lourdes of Greece”)
About Our Lady of Tinos:
One of the most popular pilgrimage destinations in Greece, this shrine is perhaps second only to the cave of Saint John on Patmos. It was here in 1882 that the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to a nun named Pelagia and requested that local Church authorities dig at a certain spot to recover and icon of her that had been buried centuries prior to this.
As you can imagine, the nun hesitated at first but then went ahead and contacted her bishop. The Bishop agreed to the excavation and locals willingly joined in.
Unfortunately, after finding nothing, much of this early enthusiasm vanished. In addition, an illness broke out at this time and that further dampened interest in looking for the icon. Then in December the Bishop gave a moving speech on the subject and re-invigorated the crowd.
The search finally unearthed the icon on January 30, 1823. It was placed in the Bishop’s residence and people came from miles around to venerate the icon. A church, Panayia Evangelistria, was built in honor of Our Lady and finished seven years later. According to tradition, it is one of three paintings made by Saint Luke. The actual title is Our Lady of Good Tidings.
It was not long before miracles began to be reported by those who had visited the Shrine. One of those was a Muslim from Turkey, Mustafa Aga, who had an incurable disease and was completely healed after a visit here. In return he gave the shrine a marble fountain that you will see as you enter the church yard.
Another interesting story concerns a Greek man living in the U.S. who was blind. He asked Our Lady for healing and promised her that he would offer whatever he first saw after being healed. He was healed, and the first thing he saw was an orange tree. He donated a silver miniature orange tree to the shrine, and you can still see it just inside the entrance to the church.
Traveling to Tinos, Greece:
The island is not a port call for most cruise lines, but you can take a ferry from nearby Mikonos, which is a popular destination for many Greek Island cruises. The ferry takes about 30 minutes, or 15 minutes on the hydro ferries. There are several sailings most days so you can probably see both Mikonos and Tinos in one day if you plan it out.
As mentioned, this is a Greek Orthodox Church, so there will be no Catholic masses available.
Click here for the official website of the Church of Panagia Evaggelistria (Our Lady of Tinos)
Photos courtesy Aristotle, Guide in Greece.