August 31, 2023

The Miraculous Discovery of the Icon of Saint Vryaini in 1963

Saint Vryaini celebrates on August 30th at her unique Cypriot church, located in the village of Mandria, in the district of Paphos. Until now we knew how the Chapel of Saint Vryaini was built after a woman from Assia, Stavroula, saw the Saint in her sleep, where she guided her to build it. But an aspect unknown until today, is regarding the discovery of the first icon of the Saint in 1963, by Euphemia Theoti from Geroskipou, a mother of six children.

We visited her at her home in Geroskipou where she was waiting for us with her children.

As she told us, until 1963, the village of Mandria in Paphos was a mixed village inhabited by Turks and a few Greeks. When the bi-communal conflicts between the Greeks and the Turks of Cyprus took place in 1963-64, the residents left their village and the village became a Turkish enclave and no Greeks could go there.

In the village, as she told us, there was a church dedicated to Saints Andronikos and Athanasia (which has now been rebuilt), and five chapels. The Chapel of Saint Vryaini was struck three times by the Turks and destroyed.

According to Euphemia, Saint Vryaini, after her chapel was destroyed, appeared one night in her sleep. "She was a woman dressed in black, not very old, with a pretty bright face, as I remember her," said Euphemia. "When she appeared in my dream, she characteristically told me: 'You go to everyone, but you don't come to me...' Then I asked her: 'Where is your house?' And she answered me that it is in Mandria next to the sea, showing me a specific spot. 'Come save me because my pains on my right side are unbearable. Tarry not,' she told me.

The next morning I woke up agitated and with a strong desire to visit the village. I mentioned it to my husband, who had objections because he was afraid for my safety. Nevertheless, we managed to secure permission from a Turkish friend of my husband's, Kemal. Without wasting time, I found a Turkish taxi driver and with the help of a Turkish friend I went to Mandria with a basket in which I put a white sheet, oil, glass and lamps.

As soon as we arrived in the area, and I got out of the taxi, a small black snake appeared in front of me, which guided me to a large stone, where there were the remains of the Chapel of Saint Vryaini that was destroyed by the bombings. Suddenly I felt an uncontrollable force overwhelm me, something that I cannot describe and then I managed to lift the stone by myself, a quite large and heavy stone, with the snake disappearing in front of me. As soon as I picked up the stone, I found it. It was there. And indeed the right half of the icon was burnt. I immediately grabbed the icon in my hands, took the sheet out of the basket and wrapped it so that the Turks would not see it. When I saved her, suddenly a strong wind started blowing. I took out and lit an oil lamp, and despite the strong wind it didn't go out."

When she returned to her house, Euphremia told her husband what had happened and he built an iconostasis for the icon. "She is the protector of my family. She always helps me in whatever I ask her. She is miraculous. She has cured many people who suffered from various diseases," she told us clearly moved.

Today the icon, which is estimated to be around 300 years old, is still in the possession of Euphemia who has been guarding it ever since. As her children told us who heard countless times from their parents how the icon of the Saint was found, their mother's wish, when she departs this life, is for the icon to be placed in the Chapel of Saint Vryaini in Mandria.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.

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