A Church of Miracles on Tinos
A long red carpet through Tinos leads to a special place: a church of miracles.
Church of Miracles: Panagia Evangelistrias
Traveling around Europe you can’t help but visit some magnificent churches; all memorable in their grandeur, history and their standing as a destination’s landmark. When I visited the quiet Cycladic island of Tinos I was impressed by a church that was associated with the miracles of life.
It was called Panagia Evangelistrias or Our Lady of Tinos. In its own unique way, it told thousands of life-changing stories.
During my tour of Tinos in late spring for Fodor’s Greek Islands I was aware I’d pay a visit to the famous Our Lady of Tinos or Panagia Evangelistrias. From what I had understood, it was one of the most visited churches in Greece, one of the top Greek Orthodox pilgrimage destinations. It was famous for an icon of the Virgin Mary that granted miracle wishes.
People of all walks of life visit Panagia Evangelistrias on an August saint day each year. I’d seen pictures of pilgrims crawling on their knees as soon as they’d get off the ferry. They’d complete an uncomfortable journey often crawling on their knees for about 800 meters from the ferry dock up to the church’s front steps. They wanted to pay homage to the miraculous icon. Once inside the church, they would kiss the icon adorned with jewels and pray for a miracle.
The Surprises Inside Our Lady of Tinos
I visited a few months before the summer pilgrimage when the island was quite empty, still gearing up for a summer season. However, upon entering the empty church I was taken aback by something else.
I found a holy place sparkling with small silver, gold, bronze and even jeweled hanging sculptures. I found out they were called tamata which translates to votives. Pilgrims who had their prayers answered or had traveled to have their prayers answered brought them as gifts to the church. They arrived with these offerings in hand believing that divine miracles can happen or hoping that miracles can happen. Each piece of art told their personal story of why they came. One worker in the church pointed out some interesting pieces and what he knew about them. Here was what I learned.
A Church of Miracles
A ship overturned and a crew was lost at sea temporarily but one baby survived, ending up on a nearby beach.
A man prayed to get his eyesight back and when it happened, the first thing he saw was an orange tree. He had a silver replica made for the church.
A whale swam into a punctured hole in a sinking ship. That saved the crew on board from drowning.
By examining other votives, I noticed a pattern. There were children or families saved from something or they needed to be saved from something. Men, women, ships, homes, animals and different representations of nature were all carved into the pieces of art.
Where Prayers Are Answered
I’ll always remember the Panagia Evangelistrias, a special place that continues to collects stories. It’s where people who believe in divine miracles needed somewhere to go.
It’s also a place where people went when they witnessed something magical and needed someone to thank.
How beautiful is that?
How to Get to Tinos
To get to the Greek islands, many international travelers arrive by air, usually with a change in Athens or another major city. There are some direct seasonal flights to certain island destinations too. You can find the best flight deals with Travelocity.
During the peak summer season, daily ferries link Tinos to Mykonos (30 minutes) and to Rafina (3 hours and 45 minutes) and Andros (1.5 hours).
A daily ferry leaves Athens Piraeus Port (5 hours).
There are also ferries from Thessaloniki, Crete, Skiathos, Santorini and Paros and weekly ferries from other ports and islands in Greece. Check www.openseas.gr for more details and updated time schedules.
Getting Around Tinos
The easiest way to get from point A to point B on the island is by driving. An international car rental company I can highly recommend is Avis Europe.
Where to Stay in Tinos
You can find my full reviews I wrote for Fodor’s about the best accommodation in Tinos here. I was very pleased with my stay at the Tinos Beach Hotel. Great staff and value for money. Perfect for families. Located a few kilometers from the main port, right next to a beach.
Where to Eat in Tinos
You can find my reviews I wrote for Fodor’s about the best Tinos restaurants here.
Have you ever been to the church of miracles in Tinos? Have you been to a church like this before? I’d love to hear about it.