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Tina’s special holy water

Tinos with Tina Sparkles- part 1.

One miraculous healing icon of the Virgin Mary. One miraculous hangover. Welcome to the idyllic Greek island of Tinos – where your prayers are heard and hangovers incurred.

Not that long ago and after years of ‘discussions’ with Tina Sparkles (proudly Greek Australian), we finally took the plunge and took a trip with her to Tinos, her most favourite Greek Island of all. Who would have known what was about to happen? Who could have guessed just how much fun the joys and mysteries of the Greek Orthodox Church could be? And considering this week marks the birthdays of both head conspirators of the following events, Tina Sparkles and The Swedish Husband, I thought it was the perfect time to put on some good old fashioned montage music and reminisce. An ode to the both of them whom I love more than life and to stunning Greece, a country in turmoil but with the strength to see it through:

Tinos is a peaceful island of whitewashed villages situated in the Cycladic archipelago about five hours by ferry from Athens, the next door neighbour of party princess Mykonos. It’s an incredibly beautiful island covered with thyme-drenched mountains, terraced slopes and traditional villages. Dovecotes and windmills dot the arid landscape and views of crystal clear emerald waters are never far from sight. And small, private churches are also never far from sight either. Seven hundred of the them in fact, one for every family. It’s Greece’s most sacred island, famed for its beauty and special healing properties, the place where miracles often occurred. We arrived ready to be blessed.

10:30am: A sober religious experience

 In June 1822, a nun by the name of Pelagia had a series of visions of the Holy Virgin. She was told of a buried painting and being a rather pro-active nun, Pelagia soon set about to find it. With help of the village elders and after months of digging, an image of the kneeling Virgin that dates back to the early Christian era was found. Construction of a sacred church began at once and reports of miraculous healings flooded in.

Convent of Kechrovouni

People were cured of this and that and word got out. Since then, pilgrims have travelled from all over Greece to worship at the Church of Annunciation, and today the sacred icon is the most venerated pilgrimage item of the Greek nation.

The Church sits atop the village of Tinos, nestled into the side of a small mountain. At any time of the day there are religious pilgrims – mostly women I noted – on hands and padded-knee, crawling up the main street towards the towering church. Along the road there is a rubberised strip, complete with sidelights for night-time crawling.

If you’re not crawling, metal trinkets featuring hearts, houses, babies and cars can be bought in the stalls all the way up to the church and are then placed in a small wooden box to the right of the icon.

After waiting in a long queue, we finally make it inside the church. Surprisingly, the famous icon stands in a small glass box to the left and is almost invisible. The silver frame is totally covered with gifts of gold, decorative ornaments and dazzling trinkets. I think I saw her left eye, I hope it’s enough. You’re allowed a short moment with the icon before you’re moved on.

Further in, scores and scores of silver lamps and trinkets hang from the tall ceiling; a foot, a hand, boats, houses and cars fill the space. Fish need blessing too. The air is heavy with a mixture of religious seriousness, incense, distant chanting, incredible heat and crowds. For someone whom is neither Greek nor Orthodox, it was still quite a moving experience. Holy water is at the bottom of the steps on the right as you go out.*

*At this time we were in the middle of multiple IVF rounds and were desperate for a baby. We took our miracle holy water back home and I’d rub it over my stomach at all stages of my cycle, for month and months, hoping for some magic. The blessed holy water would sit atop our vestibule and only I was allowed to touch it. When we moved apartments, it came too. I sprinkled it around the new place for good luck. Last year TS went back to Tinos and back to the church. And that’s when we got The Phone Call. Turns out she’d gotten it wrong. It wasn’t the holy water tap and that stuff was, well ain’t no miracle water. We’d been using regular Greek Island tap water and if that water had touched our lips,we would have needed our own miracle just to survive.

Have you ever owned holy water, only to find out that it wasn’t so holy and more likely filled with e-coli?

17 Comments Post a comment
  1. lisacng #

    Never owned holy water but I believe the “holiness” of it lies in the beholder.

    April 15, 2012
    • Nup, I prefer to blame everyone else for my misfortunes 🙂

      April 15, 2012
  2. PETA #

    Oh Tina, never a dull moment…she was just testing to see how much research you’d really done!

    April 16, 2012
  3. jenkakio #

    Looks heavenly! If it cures my hangovers, I’m there! LOL

    April 16, 2012
    • OMG, have your read part 2 already! The next installment features a good hangover or two. And yes, it was pretty heavenly….

      April 16, 2012
      • jenkakio #

        No! OMG, I didn’t know there was a part 2. I’m ready for my hangover cure! I wished I knew about it yesterday.

        April 16, 2012
  4. Never bothered with the holy water (though it was used with great success on Buffy!), but I am LOVING the views in those photographs.

    Really must travel more!

    April 16, 2012
    • LOL Buffy.
      It is such a beautiful island, oh to be back!

      April 16, 2012
  5. It is so gorgeous. I wish I could just pick up and go there 😦

    April 16, 2012
    • I know! It snowed here last weekend, nearly bought a ticket there!

      April 16, 2012
  6. Never been to Tinos–sounds like a cool place to visit! Now holy water–I think I need some of that to throw on people every now and then…I may have to sneak into a nearby Catholic church…

    April 17, 2012
  7. Emma #

    Long comment, sorry! Loving the blog Lou!
    Two images were brought to my mind after reading this post. One is a picture of heaven:

    For the Lamb on the throne
    will be their Shepherd.
    He will lead them to springs of life-giving water.
    And God will wipe every tear from their eyes.
    Revelation 7:17 New Living Translation (NLT)

    Another is a story about where to find water that gives life:

    Jesus knew the Pharisees had heard that he was baptizing and making more disciples than John (though Jesus himself didn’t baptize them—his disciples did). So he left Judea and returned to Galilee. He had to go through Samaria on the way. Eventually he came to the Samaritan village of Sychar, near the field that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there; and Jesus, tired from the long walk, sat wearily beside the well about noontime.

    Soon a Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Please give me a drink.” He was alone at the time because his disciples had gone into the village to buy some food. The woman was surprised, for Jews refuse to have anything to do with Samaritans. She said to Jesus, “You are a Jew, and I am a Samaritan woman. Why are you asking me for a drink?” Jesus replied, “If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would give you living water.”
    “But sir, you don’t have a rope or a bucket,” she said, “and this well is very deep. Where would you get this living water? And besides, do you think you’re greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us this well? How can you offer better water than he and his sons and his animals enjoyed?”

    Jesus replied, “Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again. But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.”
    “Please, sir,” the woman said, “give me this water! Then I’ll never be thirsty again, and I won’t have to come here to get water.” “Go and get your husband,” Jesus told her. “I don’t have a husband,” the woman replied.

    Jesus said, “You’re right! You don’t have a husband— for you have had five husbands, and you aren’t even married to the man you’re living with now. You certainly spoke the truth!”
    “Sir,” the woman said, “you must be a prophet. So tell me, why is it that you Jews insist that Jerusalem is the only place of worship, while we Samaritans claim it is here at Mount Gerizim, where our ancestors worshiped?” Jesus replied, “Believe me, dear woman, the time is coming when it will no longer matter whether you worship the Father on this mountain or in Jerusalem. You Samaritans know very little about the one you worship, while we Jews know all about him, for salvation comes through the Jews.

    But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way. For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.”
    The woman said, “I know the Messiah is coming—the one who is called Christ. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.” Then Jesus told her, “I Am the Messiah!” Just then his disciples came back. They were shocked to find him talking to a woman, but none of them had the nerve to ask, “What do you want with her?” or “Why are you talking to her?” The woman left her water jar beside the well and ran back to the village, telling everyone, “Come and see a man who told me everything I ever did! Could he possibly be the Messiah?” So the people came streaming from the village to see him.

    John 4

    April 17, 2012
    • You win the comp for my longest comment ever! Very nice passages, I loved reading them, especially John 4. We had a gift waiting for us didn’t we? Now she is here and spreads joy to all. Gee the women with 5 husbands, she was asking for trouble…

      April 17, 2012

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