our time in greece is nearly at an end! for our last weekend trip to an island together, my wife and i chose tinos, one of the cycladic islands that we had not yet visited. the cyclades include andros, mykonos, paros and santorini, among many others.
the main town of tinos is called chora, and it is best known for the church of the virgin mary, or panageia megalochori – at least, that is the name according to the map. according to wikipedia, the church is called either panacea evangelistria, the all-holy bringer of good news, or megalochori, she of great grace. wikipedia goes on to say
the complex is built around a miraculous icon which according to tradition was found after the virgin appeared to the nun pelagia and revealed to her the place where the icon was buried. the icon is widely believed to be the source of numerous miracles. it is by now almost completely encased in silver, gold, and jewels, and is commonly referred to as the “megalócharē” (“[she of] great grace”) or simply the “chárē tēs” (“her grace”).
wikipedia further notes “by extension the church is often called the same [megalócharē], and is considered a protectress of seafarers and healer of the infirm.” due to this latter role, one frequently sees worshippers crawl on their hands and knees from port up to the church. there even is a carpet laid at the edge of the road for these pilgrims.
photography is not allowed inside the church, presumably to protect the icon. no one seemed bothered by the visitors using their cellphones to take pictures of other parts of the interior, however, so i discretely took some shots as well. naturally, the altar screen is fantastically carved and beautifully decorated, but the church also features hundreds of votive lamps with figures of boats, houses, tools, even body parts hanging from them. a woman working in the church explained that these were tammata, or vows, representing the objects of worshippers’ prayers or promises to the virgin.
next: exploring tinos