Monday, July 30, 2007

Kassiopi and Its Icon of the Theotokos

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After a long day of traveling on Wednesday, we were very glad to get to the little apartment we had reserved in Kassiopi. The top photo shows the view from the house on Thursday morning.

Our first stop was at the local church, which is dedicated to the Life-Receiving (or Giving) Spring, celebrated on Bright Friday. When Corfu was under Roman occupation, it had been the site of a temple to Cassius Jupiter. After the Christianization of the island, a church to the Mother of God was built over the ruins of the pagan temple.

It is now most famous for its wonderworking icon of the Mother of God, known as the Kassiopi Icon. Its most famous miracle occurred in 1530. At that time, a young boy of 14, who was unjustly convicted of robbery and consequently had his eyes gouged out, was taken by his mother to this church to seek a place to stay. The monk allowed them to sleep in the church, and during the night, the Panagia appeared to the boy and healed his eyes. Where his eyes had formerly been brown, his new ones were blue! The monk at the church went to the \ governor who had imposed the unjust sentence and confronted him with the miracle. After investigating, the governor concluded that God must have righted the wrong he had committed, and begged the boy’s forgiveness. He also paid for some renovations to the church.

Unfortunately, the church was destroyed soon after, during an unsuccessfully siege of the island by the Turks. In 1590, the church was rebuilt by an admiral of the Venetian fleet, and the icon (and church, as with most of the island) passed into Catholic hands for two centuries. The icon was returned to the Orthodox in 1797, when the French took possession of the island. (Corfu has passed through many, many hands over the centuries. For more information, click here.)

The second photo is of the church’s courtyard, as you come down off the main street of the village. The third photo is of the church’s bell tower, and the fourth photo is taken from the church looking back toward the main street.

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