Every year she is celebrated on Ascension Day (40 days after Orthodox Easter). According to the legend, the miraculous icon of the Virgin Mary, came from the sea and it was found by local fishermen on the rocky coast where later, in 1650, the monastery was built.
A big feast takes place following a very special ritual that involves the arrival of the icon by ferry and its delivery to the panigiras of the year. The host of the feast (panigyri in greek) is the “panigiras”, a local who is honored to keep the icon of the saint at his home for a whole year and bring it back on the day of the festival to be blessed during the liturgy. After the evening church service, pilgrims sit down around the “tables of love”, eating, drinking lots of wine, toasting the “panigiras” and feasting till dawn singing along and dancing.
Those local folk feasts are much more than religious celebrations. They are excellent opportunities to strengthen the communal spirit while visitors and locals altogether are celebrating life!
At the westernmost point of Symi island stands Agios Emilianos monastery, where I met Irini & Vasilis, the lovely fishing couple on their boat.