Monastery of Lagouvarda
The Church of Panagia Lagouvarda (Lady of the Snakes) in Markopoulo, Kefalonia: The Church of Panagia Lagouvarda is one of the most important churches in Kefalonia. Located in the historic village of Markopoulo, 30 km from Argostoli, in southern Kefalonia, this church is constructed on the site of an older monastery. The church was burnt down in 1945 and later it was totally destroyed by the severe earthquake of 1953.
The special thing about this church is that every August snakes appear in the churchyard. The locals say that they appear every year on August 6th and disappear on August 15th. These snakes are long and have the sign of a black cross on their heads and tongues. They do not harm people and the locals touch them for good luck.
Tradition says that the appearance of these snakes is a miracle of Virgin Mary since many centuries ago. In the Medieval times, while the pirates were trying to invade the monastery, the nuns prayed to Virgin Mary to save them and Virgin Mary turned them into snakes. When the pirates entered the monastery, the only found snakes on the floor and the yard of the church.
Since them, these snakes appear every August and this is why they also call the Monastery of Lagouvarda as the Lady of the Snakes. In fact, they consider it a bad sign if the snakes do not make their appearance one summer. It is said that the snakes did not appear only twice, before two fatal events for the island: in 1940 before World War II breaks in Greece and in 1953 before the strong earthquake that destroyed Kefalonia.