It’s been a long time since I’ve posted an article in English and one of Mr. Frangopoulos’ latest articles gave me a good idea for a series; bogus and exposed miracles from our Greek-Orthodox side of the fence. And here’s the first installment:
St. Fanourios bleeds sour cherry juice
The issue of crying icons in the Greek-Orthodox Church is an old one, but it’s a rare occasion when scientists are allowed access to the “miraculous” occurrence. This was the case of St. George’s Church in the city of Argyroupolis in Attica, Greece (in the Athens Metropolitan Area).
In 2001 the icon of St. Fanourios in that church started bleeding. As usual in these cases, the church was flooded with faithful, ecstatic about the opportunity to see a miracle first-hand… and of course to leave some sort of offering, typically in the form of cash.
In the words of the greek newspaper “Eleftherotypia” (June 18th, 2001):
And now people are trying to find out if a miracle actually took place at St. George’s in Argyroupolis. A week ago the icon of St. Fanourios was “bleeding”. The faithful flooded the church in order to pay their respects to the icon and in the mean time filled the churche’s coffers. Finally, after a chemical analysis of the “blood” on the icon, it became evident that it was sour cherry juice. Yesterday it was announced by the Athens Archdiocese that Archbishop Christodoulos has ordered an official inquiry to verify the information that “several parishioners claimed that this appearance was a miracle”.
As written in the orthodox newspaper “Orthodox Press” on July 13th, 2001, the inquiry “ascertained” that the phenomena “resulted from a congruence of natural occurrences inside the church; high temperature, humidity and other known and unknown natural factors”. Of course the question remains how the… condensed humidity turned into sour cherry juice. And of course the faithful were never refunded (who would’ve imagined!) Later on, the church’s vicar was reprimanded because he allowed scientists to examine the saint’s blood, allowing them to recognize it as sour cherry juice.
This miracle was exposed rather quickly; others were not and the faithful were fleeced for considerably longer. But more on that in another article.
Since you’ve ended up here, you might also like to take a look at the crème de la crème of orthodox miracles: “The ‘holy light’ of Jerusalem”. And with Easter approaching, what better way to start the Lent!