Thousands travel miles on foot to venerate miraculous Theotokos icon


Every year on the feast of the Nativity of the Most Holy Theotokos, thousands of faithful Orthodox Christians go on pilgrimage to Panagia Antifonitria Church on the slopes of Mt. Kryoneritis in the village of Myriokefala in Crete.

Many of the pilgrims walk many miles on foot to venerate the wonderworking Icon of the Theotokos keeps there.

And this year was no exception, with thousands of pilgrims arriving on foot and by car beginning on Tuesday, the eve of the feast. Great Vespers for the feast was celebrated by Metropolitan Eugenios of Rethymno and Avlopotamos, reports

The Metropolitan also celebrated the Divine Liturgy for the feast the next morning.

The Panagia Antifonitria Church is the catholicon of an old monastery founded by St. John the Hermit around 1020. Unfortunately, the monastery is no longer active. The church serves as a village parish church today.

It is said that St. John was passing through the area one day when a huge thorn bush blocked his path. The saint set fire to the bush to get through, but through the flames, he heard a voice saying, “Here I am! Here I am!” He extinguished the fire and found an icon of the Panagia. St. John then resolved to build a monastery on the same spot.