In the town of Tinos there is one of the largest pilgrimage sites all over Greece and the Orthodox world in Greece, with immense fame. The building complex of Evangelistria is built around the point where, in January of the year 1823, the miraculous icon of the Virgin Megalochari was found, after the vision of the 70 year-old nun Pelagia from the monastery of Kechrovouni. The first procession with the icon of the Virgin through the alleyways of the town took place on February 2.
At first the church was built as well as the eastern wing and part of the southern and the northern wings of the complex. Around the years 1879-80, the building complex took its final shape, with the two-storey wings surrounding the church and the courtyard like a wall. The bell tower created by the sculptor Ioannis Filippotis according to designs by the academic Anastasios Orlandos stands out from a distance.
The church is a three-naved basilica with a dome. It is very impressive for visitors standing with the skillfully crafted wooden iconostasis made in the year 1825 and the votive offerings that are hung from the oil lamps and the chandeliers. The miraculous icon of the Virgin is found on a marble icon stand, a work of the sculptor Ioannis Lyritis (1910). It has small dimensions (20×30 centimeters) and it is surrounded by a golden frame and decorated with very many valuable votive offerings.
West of the main church, there is the church of Timios Prodromos, and below, Evreseos church with three baptisteries. Pilgrims visit the small church in order to take the holy water. Next to it there is the small Mausoleum of the Elli, devoted to the victims of the torpedo attack on the cruiser Elli by the Italians on August 15, 1940. In the large courtyard, the «fiali» (fountain), a gift by the Ottoman military commander Kiutahiji Mustafa Aga from Crete, who was healed by the Virgin, stands out. In the complex of Evangelistria there are also interesting museums.
The Votive Offerings
Ever since the icon of the Virgin was found, there have been many important votive offerings and donations of money and precious objects, such as jewels, gold coins, silks, and embroidery, farmland, houses, as well as sailboats. The most votive offerings of nautical nature from all over Greece have been devoted to the Virgin of Tinos.
The Panhellenic Holy Foundation of Evangelistria
From its founding, in the year 1825, until today it pursues educational activity, grants scholarships, maintains a library, and engages in charitable activity. It is a legal entity under public law.
Τhe largest feast of the Virgin takes place on August 15 and multitudes of people gather here. This date, instead of March 25th, which was its initial date, was established after Greece’s defeat in the Asia Minor War. A large festival also takes place on March 25th, the day of the Annunciation. A holy liturgy also takes place on January 30, the day that the icon was found.