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The Church of Virgin Mary's Annunciation

  Η Παναγία της Τήνου

The first thing one comes across when arriving at the port of Tinos on a boat, is the bell-tower of the church of Virgin Mary's Annunciation and the marvelous church, dominating the image of the hill above the town. It comprises a lifetime destination for many Christian Orthodox believers and a beloved one for those interested in Religion, Art and History. This church is directly connected with the history of Tinos, as well as the island’s economy and tourism.

Its architecture fallows the island's tradition with strong influences from both the West and the East. It has been built on the ruins of an Early Christian church, dedicated to Saint John Prodromos, where an ancient sacred temple in honor of God Dionyssos already existed. The church of Virgin Mary is a vast two-floor building, that houses the main Sanctuary on the upper floor and many other outbuildings incorporated to its yard. It has three aisles, with the middle one broadened and elevated, distinguished from the lateral ones by colonnades. Above the main entrance of the church, anyone can see a marble lintel with the two vivid archangels and between them, the engraved inscription of the creators' names.
Η εικόνα του Ευαγγελισμού

The miraculous icon of the Annunciation is located on the left side, when entering the church. It is placed on a marble shrine. The wooden icon, "wounded" by a previous fire, but also broken into two pieces by the axe of the worker during its finding, seems brilliant, covered almost entirely by rich adornments and dedications by the first pilgrims. Among the ornaments, the faces of Virgin Mary and the archangel Gabriel can be distinguished. Some believers maintain that the icon was created by the Evangelist Lucas, while other researchers date it later. From an identical copy, we know that the scene of the Annunciation is portrayed with the angel offering the lily on the left and Virgin Mary kneeling with devotion, on the right. The church is filled Το τάμα της πορτοκαλιάς with oblations left by innumerous believers, with which they expressed their prayers and their gratitude for the miracles that Virgin Mary had performed. Among those, the silver orange tree, distinguished on the right of the entrance, representing a tree that a blind man saw when healed by the Virgin Mary, the ship with a fish stuck in a hole on its craft, thus helping it from sinking, dedicated by the captain and many others that can be observed hanging from the ceiling.

All these, along with the remaining decorations, the artifacts of sober beauty and the gilded chancel screen, the pulpit and the bishop’s artistic throne contribute to the admiration by each and every visitor.

Under the main Sanctuary there is the one of the Life-giving Source. Here, the pilgrim can get holy water from the source that was discovered together with the Icon and soil from the place that the icon was found.

Η Παναγία της Τήνου

In the buildings surrounding the yard, offices, museums and other services of the foundation and the visitors' needs are housed. Furthermore, in the yard there is the bottle-fountain, a donation from a Muslim, who attributed his cure to Virgin Mary.

The imposing bell-tower was erected beside the church. Its base is made of stone and it rises 30 meters high, with three marble lanterns. This sublime bell tower was created by John Filippotis, based on a project designed by Anastasios Orlandos. Its bells resound in the entire Town and the villages around and it comprises the landmark of the Virgin Mary compound and the Capital as well, because it is the first thing the visitor sees from the boat upon arrival.

THE FINDING OF THE HOLY ICONΗ εικόνα του Ευαγγελισμού

In the beginning of the 19th century, at the monastery of "Kehrovouni", there was a nun named Pelaghia. She had the dream of Virgin Mary telling her about where they should dig to find Her Icon. This dream was repeated three times until the nun was convinced and applied to the authorities, which organized the search for the Icon. After some unsuccessful results, they abandoned the quest, but after the plague hit the island, they resumed the works, with greater eagerness. Digging at the substructure of an old Christian church in order to build a new one, on sanctification day, (01/01/1823) water sprang from a dry well in the area, a fact that was considered as a miracle. The new temple was dedicated to the Life-giving Source. While the works for the finding of the icon continued, on the 30th of January, the axe of a laborer from the village "Falatados" hit the Icon, breaking it in two pieces, leaving the images of Virgin Mary and the archangel unscratched.

The joy-bringing message of the finding spread all over revolutionary Greece and the believers came to worship and to offer financial support for the construction of Her church, giving their valuables as dedications, while the works continued. Among the first pilgrims were the heroes of the war of Independence, Kolokotronis, Makrygiannis, Miaoulis, Kanaris and more.


It is a custom that takes place every year on the 30th of January in Tinos town, celebrating the anniversary of the Icon finding. The celebration with people gathering from every corner of the island, relives the day the Holy Icon was discovered and the news about its finding were spread. The people started coming, bearing lit lanterns in order to worship the Icon of Virgin Mary. Since then, in the evening of January 30th the city brass band, the students of every school level, but also small children and adults of every age, each holding a lantern, gather around the church. These little lanterns are especially hand-crafted usually by the children themselves, using wooden sticks and colorful transparent membrane. Everybody starts from the church of Virgin Mary and, while marching through the narrow alleys, chant joyous songs referring to this big celebration of Tinos, such as:

Τα "φαναράκια" στην Τήνο"Come and gather here, Tinian people
To celebrate the finding of our
Virgin Mary Icon and
Let us all praise Her Grace"

Forerunners are the clergy and the Authorities of Tinos and the Cyclades, followed by a crowd from all over the island, as well as visitors. They all meet at "Pantanassa" square, while fireworks light the sky and the boats blast. From the marble platform of the square, wishful speeches are given and this joyful event ends with a sumptuous treat by the Municipality of Tinos.


Το μωσαϊκό έξω από την εκκλησία αφιερωμένο στην Αγία Πελαγία The G.H.F.A.T is a legal entity of Public Equity, under the surveillance of the Ministry of Education and Religion. It is being run by a ten member committee presided by the Bishop of Syros -Tinos. Its income comes from private contributions, endowments, ritual rights, oblation sales and real estate income (rents).

The activities endorsed by the Foundation until now are varied and of great importance. In particular, it sustains a multitude of National, Educational, Charitable, Religious, Social and Cultural activities. Those include: the care of thousands of refugees during troubled times in the past, the dispensation of valuables to the Government during periods of war, the founding, financial support and enhancement of schools, the scholarships to locals with important achievements, the help to the poor, sick and elderly, the subsidizing of city infrastructure and many more.


Δεκαπενταύγουστος στην Τήνο

The biggest celebration of Tinos and one of the biggest in the Orthodox Faith is the celebration of the “Virgin Mary Assumption Day” on the 15th of August. For a long time, the whole island and its people prepare for this day. In the afternoon of the eve, the church is crowded with devotees inside the Virgin Mary court, as well as outside, on the pavement of “Megalohari Street”, who listen to the hymn: "When alive, you kept your virginity, after your death you haven't abandoned the world..." All night the chanting and the bells bond with the invocations of desperate people praying to Her. When it dawns on the day of the great religious feast, the place is so crowded, that it is quite impossible not merely to enter the church, but also to get close to its surroundings, in the streets, the square, the port and wherever the procession passes from.
After the Big Mass being celebrated in the church in a solemn and moving atmosphere, the procession starts parading towards the "Pantanassa" square. Δεκαπενταύγουστος στην Τήνο

It is accompanied by both the Church and the Navy brass bands playing. The Holy Icon is carried by soldiers of the Greek Navy, followed by the whole clergy, State and local authority representatives and private citizens. As the holy procession heads to the port, the people are elbowing each other in order to get into the middle of the street, so that the Icon passes above them and they get the opportunity to touch It and beg for miracles to happen. Along with the chanting and the music, you can hear desperate people’s voices, begging and invoking the mercy of the Mother of Jesus, but also happy voices of gratitude for the miracles that happened to them. At the marble platform square, “Te Deum” is being held and speeches are being given by religious and political representatives. Afterwards, an honorary boat with a State representative reaches the sea-spot where the cruiser "Elli" sunk in 1940, torpedoed by an Italian submarine, in order to pay honors to the lost crew members. In conclusion, the Icon returns back to the church the same way, leaving behind both awe and hope for every soul.