published in Bayside News, April 15th ed.
Tarpon Springs is an unusual place with an unusual history. Greek emigrants from the Dodecanses Islands populated it, utilizing their knowledge of diving to create a thriving sponge diving industry. As commerce grew, so did the Greek population. Greek culture, traditions and religion rose to prominence in the area. Yet, in addition to this, one other new element was introduced to Tarpon Springs: the weeping icons.
Icons are pictures of holy people and are venerated as sacred in the Greek Orthodox Church. Often, they depict Jesus, Mary, or special saints. Some icons, for reasons unexplained, shed tears that create mixed reactions from the public. Often, the tears were thought to be warnings of doom. Weeping icons have a history of accurately predicting earthquakes and war in Greece. Others believe it is an uplifting experience that reveals the divine's interaction with mankind.
The story of the Tarpon Springs icons begins at St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral. On Dec. 5, 1970, a woman cleaning the Church noticed something odd about the Icon of the church's patron saint, St. Nicholas: drops of moisture had formed around the eyes of the image. Yet, the icon was tightly enclosed in a glass frame.
In the following days, other parishioners reported seeing droplets on the icon. On Dec. 14, Father Elias, the Church Pastor, also became an eyewitness to the tears. Skeptical, Father Elias called a carpenter to examine the icon's case. The carpenter announced it to be airtight. Even when exposed to the drying effect of the sun's rays, the icon still wept. Others have since examined the icon, none have come to a conclusion as to why it wept.
The Icon ceased its tears Dec. 8, 1973. For a time, nothing else happened. Then, in August of 1992, St. Nicholas began to cry again. The last tear fell Feb. 15, 1996 and since that time the icon has lain dormant. Dried tear tracks can be seen in the glass that covers St. Nicholas. No one knows why this icon cried, or why it stopped.
"It may be trying to tell us something...to behave," said one man, who declined to give his name.
The second weeping icon of Tarpon Springs is located in the Shrine of Saint Michael Taxiarchis. This small shrine is hidden away between houses on Hope Street. A grateful mother whose son recovered from a mysterious illness built the Shrine. The boy attributed his recovery to the intervention of St. Michael, an Archangel, who requested a shrine be built in his name.
In 1989, thousands of visitors were drawn to the shrine when tears were seen flowing from an icon of the Virgin and Christ. Of the two figures in the icon, only Mary appeared to cry at first. After a Greek Orthodox service to celebrate the event, tears began flowing from five other icons, according to witnesses who attended the service. One person tasted the tears, and reported that they were both salty and oily.
Two years prior to this event in Tarpon Springs, tears were seen flowing from an icon of the Virgin and the Christ at a church in Chicago. This icon in the Tarpon Springs shrine is a copy of that icon.
Though candles burn in front of the image and holy oil is dipped from a bowl housed under the icon's gaze, the icon has also ceased to weep. Yet, deep tear tracks remain evident on Mary's face, remains of tears that, remarkably, appear to be in proportion to the size of the icon's eyes.
The tear residues surprised Scott Harper, a New Port Richey resident who works in Tarpon Springs. Also interested in the supernatural, he came out to investigate the mysterious icons.
"I don't know what could cause this," he said, "Humidity in the air condensing might be one reason for the tears, but condensation should appear all over the icon, not only the eyes. I really don't know what to make of it."
FOR MORE INFORMATION, SCROLL DOWN.....
Weeping Icon of St. Nicholas, with tear stains, close up and in case....
The weeping icon at the Shrine of St. Michael....note: Mary alone cried. Also note the size of the tears. The image is approx. 1 foot by 2 feet in size. Tears, to me, appear to be in the appropriate size for the icon.
Feast Day: Sept. 29. Michaelmas. First of the seven archangels and the leader of the hosts of Heaven; protector of high places; patron of cemeteries and mountain tops. Patron saint of paratroopers, police, radiologists.
The archangel Michael routed Lucifer when Lucifer rebelled against God and his divine order; Michael physically cast him from the Heavens into the fiery pits of hell. Often depicted as a winged soldier in armor because he fights against evil, Michael also rescues souls form hell, leading them up to Heaven. His feast day, known in Britain as Michaelmas, coincides with the
migration of geese, the original source of the traditional Michaelmas goose dinner. In art, he is often pictured in full armor slaying evil in the form of the devil or a dragon or holding heavenly scales and weighing souls. His
most famous chapel icon Mont-Saint-Michel in Normandy.
From: Saints A Visual Almanac of the Virtuous, Pure, Praiseworthy, and Good
by Tom Morgan
Sandy's Report, 719.01
St. Michael's Shrine (Weeping Icon)
The Icon was brought from Greece in 1937 and kept at the home of the Shrine builder. On November 6, 1938 around 9:00 p.m. The builder of the Shrine and a few of her relatives heard the sound of a church bell coming from the Icon. This lasted until 3:00 a.m. The Icon then was taken to a local church
where a special ceremony was performed. The bell ringing event occurred over the next two years.
In December of 1939 the builder's son became deathly ill and was hospitalized. After three months his condition worsened to the point that doctors had no hope and could not diagnose his illness. The boy asked his mother for the Icon and she placed it on his chest. Throughout the night he clung to the Icon and spoke to someone unseen by others in the room. He told his mother St. Michael wanted her to build a shrine to him and that he would be cured. At her promise to build it the child fell into a peaceful sleep and upon waking the next morning was cured. Within two years the Shrine was built and holding masses
Many, many healings have been attributed to the Shrine over the years. On the day of our visit we spoke to a lady who felt she had been cured of very painful arthritis at the Shrine.
No EMF/ELF readings but multiple pics taken. Other team members reported a strong positive energy in the Shrine while I felt a great peace.
<-----What is this image??? This was enlarged from the circled portion above.
According to Karen: "That enlargement is way too cool - it looks like St. Micheal with a sword."
What do you think?
(Below): Another icon from St. Michaels. What do you make of the face in the clouds?
July 14, 2001
Weeping Icons: St. Michael's Shrine, Hope Street
One of the Icons inside the temple was used by a dying boy ot communicate with St. Michael. The body was healed by the saint with the promise to build a shrine to hi.
A sword also hangs in the shrine. It was donated by Peter Philip Wright, who was also healed by St. Michael. He was in a construction accident and prayed to the saint, who agreed to heal him if he provided a sword for the St. Michael statue outside of the shrine.
There were crutches of some of those healed left in one corner of the shrine.
There was an icon with plaque representation of prayer requests. Images of the parts that were afflicted were left on the icon.
One parishioner leaving the area stopped to talk to us. She told us that she, too, had been healed at the shrine. She said she went to the shrine 5 years ago to pray. Two days later, horrible arthritis in her hands had been healed.