October 10, 2023

Synaxarion of the Finding of the Honorable Zoni of the Theotokos in Santorini and Its Return to Vatopaidi Monastery in 1830

On the 10th of this month (October), we celebrate the remembrance of the finding of the Honorable Zoni of our Most Holy Theotokos in the year 1830 on the island of Saint Irene, namely Santorini, and its glorious return to the divine and revered Monastery of Vatopaidi.


To reap abundant grace, O believers,
The Zoni hidden in the soil was found.

With hymns we honor you Virgin at the finding of your Zoni,
The Orthodox flock of the island of Santorini.

As mentioned by many written testimonies of the sacred, revered and imperial Monastery of Vatopaidi on Mount Athos, and even a Theraean document of the year 1830, during the month of June in 1820, sacred relics were sent to Crete to save it from the plague epidemic, among which was the Honorable Zoni of the Theotokos, a portion of the Honorable Wood of the Cross, and the Head of Saint Andrew the Jerusalemite, Bishop of Crete, with the escort of the hieromonks Neophytos and Ambrosios, the hierodeacon Parthenios and the monks Dionysios and Dorotheos.

Due to the merciless massacres of the Turks, the two hieromonks and the monk Dionysios were killed, while the hierodeacon and the monk Dorotheos, in their attempt to preserve the sacred relics, fled to the English consulate. But even in this the danger of slaughter was visible. So they kept the Honorable Belt in the storeroom, together with all the offerings of the Christians and at night from the windows of the consulate they took them down to the port of Heraklion, where a ship was waiting for them ready to take them to Mount Athos.

And the consuls, threatened by the savage Ottomans, began to leave one after the other for Europe, for reasons of security.

However, the ship of the English consul Dominikos Santantonios, in which he had boarded with his family and which had the sacred relics with it, due to the contrary wind and threatened by the ships of the Turkish fleet, approached the port of Santorini at the beginning of 1821, where he remained. From the Athinios bay of the island, the consul went up to Fira, keeping the holy relics hidden even from the monks of Vatopaidi. Surprisingly, however, there he met several Cretan refugees, known to his family.

Because of the military operations of the Greek Revolution, the consul decided to remain in Santorini, where the Catholics of the place offered him excellent hospitality, to whom he also offered several services, as a surgeon. For ten years he carefully hid the said relics, with the intention of transporting them to European cities and selling them in the future.

After some time, however, the Cretan refugees of the island revealed the secret, namely that the English consul possesses the Honorable Zoni and the other holy relics.

When the news spread as far as Mount Athos, two monks from Vatopaidi, Dionysios and Stephanos, came to receive them, having with them the official monastic letters on the ownership of the relics, who informed the bishop of Santorini, Zacharias.

Immediately that zealous pastor visited the English consul with the archdeacon Seraphim Kairis and the policeman Antonios N. Sigalas at his house, asking him to hand over the holy relics to them. He, however, refused to do so, justifying himself as being under the pressure "of his demon wife Stephania", according to the Theraean document. Then the policeman gathered all the Orthodox Christians, clergy and people, outside the consul's house, in Fira, with the banners and exapteriga while the church bells rang joyfully.

Because of all this, the consul Dominikos was afraid of the Orthodox people, who remained motionless all night from 9 to 10 October 1830 outside his house, and after leaving the visitors alone for a while, he went inside his house and returned shortly after, having his facial expression altered.

After preparing a table, he left again, around two after midnight. When he returned, he announced that he went to the monastery of the Franks and took the box with the holy relics. He immediately lit twenty candlesticks on the table and after incensed his house, the guests who were present and the two Vatopaidi fathers, who arrived in the meantime, and took with a solemn gesture the holy relics, raised them weeping and delivered them into the hands of the holy high priest of Santorini, who "bending the knee of his soul and body" venerated them with sacred emotion and inexpressible joy.

The Theotokos showed her miracle again!

After the Service of the Sanctification of the Waters, the bishop lifted the golden box with the Honorable Zoni, and the hagiorite monks the other two sacred relics, and accompanied by the sacred clergy and the people, arrived in a procession to the Metropolitan temple of the city of Fira, where there took place a thanksgiving doxology to the all-good God. Not only the Orthodox, but also the Franks came "with women and children" and venerated with great reverence, while many were healed of suffering and those who had demons shouted that they were leaving due to the power of the Honorable Zoni!

Then the Vatopaidi fathers brought it for sanctification to the rest of the island's villages, where "the people like a swarm of bees" came to venerate the holy Theometoric relic, which "aromatized an indescribable fragrance", according to the exact wording of the Theraean document.

After three months from the day of the discovery, the monks accompanied by many residents of Thera, who brought Christian contributions, tributes and donations - among which was a five-stem golden lamp with the name "ΘΗΡΑ" - brought the sacred relics to the Vatopaidi Monastery, and all the monks, with spiritual joy, kept an "all-night vigil" that day. They also deemed it right to celebrate the finding and manifestation of the Honorable Zoni to take place every year on the tenth of October, in honor and memory of the Most Holy Theotokos, an event which continues to this day.

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