Greece celebrated the Dormition of the Virgin Mary on Tuesday (August 15) with great splendor and devotion, liturgies and processions of the icon of the Virgin.
The day, also known as “the Summer Easter” of Greek Orthodoxy, honors the mother of Jesus Christ as a transcendent mother figure of humanity and one who can intercede for the salvation of the faithful or provide true solace during trying times for an individual.
For Greeks, the Virgin has been strongly connected to the historical struggles of the nation, and the evidence of the reverence in which she is held lies in the hundreds of qualifiers added to her name throughout Greece’s towns and villages.
The island of Tinos is traditionally the focus of celebrations for the feast of the Dormition annually, with the faithful making pilgrimages to the imposing Church of the Virgin Mary of Tinos. The icon naming the church was found in January 1823 by a nun at the historic Monastery of the Dormition of the Virgin/”Lady of the Angels” on the island who was directed to its location.
A royal decree in 1836 established an eight-day celebration of the Virgin on the island of Tinos, to August 23 (nine days after her dormition), when an epitaphios (a funerary bier, usually associated with Christ) and her icon are venerated.
The annual liturgy is celebrated the same day as the commemoration of the sinking of the Greek cruiser ‘Elli’ at the port of the island by the Italians on Dormition Day in 1940. Both events are attended annually by high government and Armed Forces leaders.
A celebratory liturgy was also held on Sunday at the Panagia Soumela Monastery in Pontos, led by Ecumenical Patriarchate Bartholomew after the Turkish government granted a last-minute permission. The monastery, the most important Greek Orthodox pilgrimage site for Pontian Greeks, is built on the Melas mountain and a liturgy was first held there by Bartholomew on Dormition Day in 2010.