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AEGEAN ISLANDS

Panagia Tsambika (Virgin Mary Tsambika)

The goddess of fertility on Rhodes is called Panagia Tsambika (Virgin Mary Tsambika). Childless women walk barefoot up to her monastery, which is located high atop a hill visible from the main road (1.6 km beyond Kolymbia), and pray to the Virgin Mary to make them worthy of having a child. This challenge involves climbing 292 steps. If the vow works, childless believers name their child Tsambikos, if it is a boy and Tsambika, if it is a girl. These names are typical of Rhodes and wouldn’t be found anywhere else. Tsambika is a single-room church of Dodecanese style, built in the 14th century, and paved with the traditional chochlakia. The wooden carved iconostasis is a work of great craftsmanship and seems to date back before the 17th century. For security reasons, the icon of Tsambika is kept in the monastery that is located down the hill, alongside the main road.

The feast of Panagia Tsambika takes place on 8th September.

 

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