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The Holy Snakes at Markopoulo

The Holy Snakes at Markopoulo

Panagia Lagouvarda or Panagia Fidousa is found at Markopoulo village. Every year at the beginning of August the little snakes appear and crawl around on Virgin Mary’s icon until August 15th. These snakes have a characteristic cross on their heads and are thought to be harmless and sacred. In fact their appearance is thought to be a good omen for the upcoming year whereas their absence a sign of bad lack. In 1940 and 1953 the snakes did not appear and many bad things happened for the island. In 1940 it was occupied by the Germans and in 1953 disastrous earthquakes brought everything down.
At the point where the church is today there was a women’s monastery and according to tradition Virgin Mary transformed the nuns into snakes in order to save them from the Turks while according to another version she sent poisonous snakes to attack the intruders. The stories about the monastery talk about a shepherd that found the icon of Virgin Mary at a certain point and thus the inhabitants of the village decided to build a temple in her memory. The next day though they found the icon mysteriously transferred to another point and the same thing happened the next two days so the inhabitants thought this was an omen they should not neglect and built the temple at that point.
O August 14tth a big feast is carried out at the church. Visitors from all over the island arrive there to admire this little miracle that takes place every year and take photos of themselves holding the sacred snakes.


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