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Culture > Religion > The Myrtidiotisa march

Culture > Religion

submitted by Eleni Harou on 21.02.2004

The Myrtidiotisa march

For almost two hundred years the march of the Myrtidiotisa icon has taken place annually on Kythera in the second week of easter.
19th century: Faith is strong on the island, miracles by the patron virgin Myrtidiotisa of the island happen often, and any contact with the holy icon is much sought after. However, the monastery is situated far from most of the villages, and it takes a full day to reach it by the common transport method, namely the donkey, and as most people are hard at work not many have the time to make the journey. In view then of these facts the traditional round of the island with the holy icon is started. The march takes place in Spring and is followed round the icon amidst almost pagan celebrations and rejoicing as the icon passes through each village, surrounded by revellers and market stalls. In the evening the celebrations peak and continue far into the night. These days of course the celebrations are almost non existent in comparison, however tradition is still kept faithfully.
The icon starts out from the Myrtidiotisa monastery on the Sunday and is marched to the capital, Chora, where it remains until Easter Monday. On the evening of that day it leaves the capital to make the rounds of the villages, remaining in each one for half a day or more, long enough for the service, before continuing to the next village.
The icon is carried on the shoulders of the faithful, and it is lovely to see their eagerness to be the one to lift, something that reminds us that, in some small corners of the world like Kythera, faith, or at least a need for faith, is still very much alive, as well as a little respect still lasting for the old ways…

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