Miracles
October 13, 2023

The Sacred Snakes of Kefalonia

Orthodox icon with saints at the sacred snakes of kefalonia

In the course of our research for the Lives, Miracles, and Wisdom of the Saints & Fasting Calendar, we often run across stories that constantly amaze us. We hope you enjoy them as much as we do.

Almost every year from August 7 to August 15 at the Church of the Assumption in the village of
Markopoulo in southern Kefalonia, harmless snakes appear. They have a small black cross on
their heads and tongues. This species is not known of anywhere else in the world. They appear
crawling around the church and on the miraculous icon of the Panagia, but never on her face.


This icon of the Panagia was first discovered unharmed at the base of a burning tree. The
villagers reverently took it to the church, but on three separate occasions, it was found back at
the burned tree. The villagers built a church there and placed the icon within. Later a convent
was also built and the nuns pray each day to the Panagia.


The snakes first appeared in 1705 when pirates approached, intending to rob the monastery.
When they entered the village, they were terrified by snakes everywhere, crawling on the floors
and walls and the monastery was surrounded by snakes. The pirates fled.


Since then, the snakes have appeared every year except twice: once in 1940 and again in 1953.
This signified that something bad would occur, which it did when World War II broke into
Greece and a disastrous earthquake struck Kefalonia.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the phenomenon involving snakes at the Church of the Assumption in Markopoulo, Kefalonia?

Every year, from August 7 to August 15, a unique species of harmless snakes appear at the Church of the Assumption in Markopoulo, Kefalonia. These snakes, which have a small black cross on their heads and tongues, crawl around the church and on the miraculous icon of the Panagia, but never on her face. This phenomenon is unique to this location and is not observed anywhere else in the world.

What is the significance of the icon of the Panagia in the church?

The icon of the Panagia is considered miraculous. It was discovered unharmed at the base of a burning tree and was moved to the church by villagers. However, the icon was found back at the burned tree on three separate occasions, prompting the villagers to build a church at that location to house the icon. The icon is revered and is associated with the miraculous appearance of the snakes.

How did the snakes first appear and what is their significance?

The snakes first appeared in 1705 when pirates intended to rob the monastery in the village. Upon entering, they encountered snakes crawling on the floors and walls, and the monastery was surrounded by them, which terrified the pirates and caused them to flee. The snakes are seen as protectors and their annual appearance is considered a blessing and a protective sign.

What happened in the years when the snakes did not appear?

The snakes did not appear twice: once in 1940 and again in 1953. These instances were seen as ominous signs, and indeed, unfortunate events followed each time. In 1940, World War II reached Greece, and in 1953, a disastrous earthquake struck Kefalonia.

Is the species of snakes that appear in the church found anywhere else in the world?

No, the snakes that appear in the Church of the Assumption are not known to exist anywhere else in the world. They are unique due to the small black cross markings on their heads and tongues and are considered a mystery and a miracle by those who witness their annual appearance.

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