Monastery of Agia Markella

Location: Volissos   

The Monastery of Agia Markella in Volissos, Chios: The Monastery of Agia Markella, the patron saint of Chios, is located 8 km from the village of Volissos and 45 km from Chios Town, on the north western side of the island. This monastery is actually built on the beach with clean water and view to the secluded island of Psara.

A small path from the beach leads to the saint's site of martyrdom, where a large pilgrimage takes place on July 22nd, the celebration day of Agia Markella. This day is very important for the island of Chios and thousands of visitors travel to the island for this cause. In fact, a lot of pilgrims actually walk all the way from Chios Town to the monastery of Agia Markella, a distance of 45 km, as a kind of solemn promise to the saint.

Agia Markella lived in Volissos Chios in the 14th century. Her father was a pagan and her mother was a devoted Christian, who raised her daughter as a Christian, too. At a young age, her mother died and around her 18th birthday, her father was forcing her to become an idolater. Afraid of her father, Markella ran away from her home and found refugee in the mountains.

One day, her father found her hiding in a bush and set the bush in fire to force her come out. Markella ran to the sea to escape but her father wounded her with an arrow. The blood of the saint dyed the rocks and it is said that the faithful can see this blood on her festive day.

As she was injured, she prayed to Christ to hide her and, in fact, a rock opened and hid all her body, except for her head. Her father found her, cut the head and threw it in the sea. A water spring flows till today from these rocks. Few years later, her head was found on the close beach of Komi.

On the celebration day of Agia Markella, on July 22nd, pilgrims walk about 20 min from the Monastery to the site of martyrdom of Agia Markella. There, the priest prays the paraclesis (pray to the saint) and the sea water below the cliff starts to boil, as the pilgrims say. This stops when the paraclesis finishes. They say that if you taste this boiled sea water that day, it will be as drinkable as pure water.

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