September 24, 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.

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