Greek Diocese of Fokida declares two-month period of mourning over loss of wonderworking icon to monastery fire

Fokida, Greece, June 16, 2020


A period of general mourning has been declared in the Diocese of Fokida of the Orthodox Church of Greece after a devastating fire destroyed the wonderworking Varnakova Icon of the Mother of God at the Monastery of the Varnakova Panagia in Efpalio, Greece, late Sunday evening.

“The Holy Metropolis of Fokida is in mourning today! It stands shocked and tearful before the unspeakable tragedy, suffering in soul and heart before the tragic burnt offering of the catholicon of the Holy Monastery of the Theotokos, named Varnakova, and especially before the complete destruction of the miraculous and treasured icon,” reads the message from His Eminence Metropolitan Theoktistos of Phocis, published on Romfea.


The period of mourning will last until August 14, the eve of the feast of the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos. Met. Theoktistos calls upon his flock to kneel in prayer, “sympathizing with the tough ordeal of the afflicted holy brotherhood of the monks.”

The monastery is one of the five oldest in Greece, dating to 1071, His Eminence notes.

“The adornment, pride, and boasting of the holy Monastery has for centuries been not the imperial origin of its first builders, not the magnificent mosaic floors of the cathedral, not the rare archive of the library with the famous gold coins, but the miraculous and venerated icon of the Panagia … whose loving gaze turned and watched Her children wherever they walked, healing them of many hard passions of both soul and body,” the Metropolitan writes.

He concludes his message calling on the faithful to be zealous in prayer and repentance, that the good God “might prevent any further, grief, danger, need, and mourning in our entire nation.”


As OrthoChristian reported yesterday, only a tiny fragment of the icon remains. A Holy Gospel book was also lost in the fire, though none of the monastics were harmed.

In October 2017, OrthoChristian reported about a seriously ill man who was miraculously healed after his wife visited the monastery and prayed to the Mother of God before her icon.

Read about the history of the monastery here.

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A Greek of Constantinople.6/18/2020 7:48 pm
To the comments bellow. You are free to interpret as you wish. I am pretty sure misfortune comes just like rain, to the just and the unjust. I find it cheap and immature to make such claims as the two comments bellow, but that is just me. Because if I take their position from the opposing side then I could say.. Oh right! The deaths of Russian Church priests from COVID had to do with Ukraine and going against Constantinople. I could say Fr. Chaplin criticized Constantinople and died. Fr. Hatzidakis criticized Constantinople and died. It's cheap and revolves around a medieval mentality, but as you can see I too can use the misfortune of the other side to make a statement that their cause is unjust and because it is unjust punishment fell from the heavens. I didn't however, which is why I refrained from putting such comments under news of misfortune.
Michael6/17/2020 6:26 pm
Hmmm... Metropolitan Theoktistos of Fokida (also spelled Fokidos and Phocis)... where have I heard that name before? Oh, right! In November 2019: Greek Metropolitan: I will reject anyone who rejects the “Orthodox Church of Ukraine” Clergy and laity of the Russian Orthodox Church who do not recognize the autocephaly of the OCU as granted by Patriarch Bartholomew will no longer be accepted in the Fokidos Metropolis of the Greek Church, Metropolitan Theoktistos of Fokidos declared during the Divine Liturgy yesterday at the Monastery of Sts. Seraphim of Sarov and St. Augustine of Hippo, reports the diocesan website.
Antiochene Son6/17/2020 1:56 pm
Perhaps the Lord permitted this loss because the faithful are not being allowed to venerate the icons. Perhaps he said, "If you don't want it, I will take it away." Lord have mercy.
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