Emmy Louvaris is the host of This Week in Orthodoxy, the first weekly news show to cover the international Orthodox Church and community.
Welcome to “This Week in Orthodoxy”, the world’s only online video newscast focused on events in the life of the Orthodox Church. I’m Emmy Louvaris. These are some of the stories making headlines the week of Friday, August 19, 2016.
Celebrating the Assumption of the Virgin Mary
First Up, one of the most revered feast days across the Orthodox World, the Feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary was celebrated August 15th. Preceded by a fourteen day fast, the Feast commemorates the repose of the Mother of Jesus Christ, our Lord as well as the assumption into heaven of the body of the Theotokos.
In Orthodox countries throughout the globe, faithful fill churches for services followed by festivities running late into the night, especially those church communities named in honor of the Virgin Mary who welcome guests with processions, celebrations and festivals. Each church, celebrating in their own unique way, depending on their geographical location, culture and history.
Here are some of the most popular examples from Greece.
In the town of Siatista, Kozani located in northern Greece, The Church of the Virgin Mary of Mikrokastro is the center of worship and celebration and is known for the riding horsemen. The custom of pilgrim riders comes from the Ottoman Empire, when it was an opportunity for slaves to show their bravery and desire for freedom. On August 14 and 15, the town of Siatista vibrates to the rhythm of music and excitement. On the eve of the Assumption, the horsemen gather together from the various neighborhoods and towns and On the day of the Assumption, start the morning with worship at the Virgin Mary Monastery and By noon, the impressive riders enter the town square where celebrations continue late into the evening.
On the Greek island of Lesvos in the Aegean- Pilgrims, walk 25 km from the city of Mytilene, to reach the churchyard, where they stay overnight. On the feast day of Our Lady, after the procession of the icon around the church, festivities begin.
The pilgrimage to the Panagia of Tinos is probably the largest religious pilgrimage of Hellenism. The Cycladic island is completely associated with the Virgin Mary, and thousands flock to the island every year to venerate the miraculous image of Mary in the Church of the Blessed Virgin. The image of believers kneeling or climbing the stairs up to the icon is the most characteristic. The procession of the epitaph of the Virgin Mary is similar to the procession of the Epitaph of Christ on Good Friday, with thousands of believers following with lighted candles.
On the island of Kefalonia in the Ionian – Believers gather in the courtyard of the Holy Monastery of Panagia Fidousa in Markopoulo, to see the “Lady of the Snakes.” Every August 15, small snakes appear in the belfry and the church committee collects them in the yard of the Holy Temple. According to the tradition, snakes bring good luck to the island. If they do not appear, it is a bad omen, as happened, for example, in the year of major earthquakes in Kefalonia, some decades ago.
And lastly, the historic Panagia Soumela Monestary, located on the Pontic mountain range in present day Turkey, is the site where St. Luke painted the miraculous icon of the Virgin Mary. Each year, thousands of believers throughout Greece and abroad flock to partake in the procession of the holy icon of the Virgin Mary and the festive events that follow. The historic monastery held its first liturgy in June of 2010 after 88 years, with permission granted by the Turkish government at the time, and the Ecumenical Patriarch presiding over the liturgy in honour of the Virgin Mary in whose name the monastery was named.” Unfortunately, closed since 2015 for repairs, the Monastery remained silent this year.
Fire at Ascension Monastery in Clinton, Michigan
And next up, another church fire leaves a monastic community in saddened shock, the Romanian Orthodox Monastery of the Ascension of the Lord, in Clinton, Michigan burned down on Friday, August 12th. The cause is yet unknown. His Eminence, Archbishop Nathaniel together with Rev. Fr. Vicar Dan Hoarste traveled to the monastery immediately following the fire. During this difficult time, we pray to God to give peace and comfort to the monastic community. A fund has been established for the monastery and parishes are encouraged to make a collection or donate directly by visiting www.holy-ascension.org
News from OCN
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That brings another edition of “This Week in Orthodoxy,” to a close. Wishing you a Blessed Week, for everyone here in our OCN studios, I’m Emmy Louvaris. Let’s go forth in peace.
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