Panagia Theoskepasti

Location: Chora   

The church of Panagia Theoskepasti in Andros Cyclades, Greece: The church of Panagia Theoskepasti is located on top of a hill in the quarter of Paraporti in Chora, the capital of Andros, few metres from Kairi Square. Legend has it that in a dark night, the locals saw a dazzling light moving from the sea towards the coast. It was an icon of Virgin Mary that went directly into a cave by itself when it reached the coast. The locals transfered the icon to the church of Agios Athanassios, but the next morning the icon was miraculously found again into the cave. That is when people decided to build a church above this cave and place the icon in there.

The church was built with the contributions of the locals but due to limited sources, the roof was not finished for a long time. This is when a second miracle happened and many tree logs were washed out one night from the sea. These logs were used to construct the roof. As it was believed that God sent the logs, the church was named Theoskepasti, which means roofed by God.

The miraculous icon of Virgin Mary can today be seen in the iconostasis of the church. Except from the faces of Virgin Mary and baby Jesus, the entire icon is later covered with silver. The iconostasis is golden and it is decorated with reliefs, made by an artist from Chios in the 17th century. There are not many frescoes inside the church, but there are rare Byzantine icons on the walls.

The church of Panagia Theoskepasti is a three-aisled basilica and has two tall bell-towers. It is considered the protector of the entire island of Andros and also the protector of sailors. The church celebrates on the fifth Friday after Lent Monday (Friday of the Akathist Hymn).

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