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.