Greek Icon On Display for Victims
Oct. 15, 1999
ATHENS, Greece (AP) _ Hundreds of people waited in line to get a glimpse of a 1,000-year-old religious icon revered as a miracle-giver after it was brought to Athens on Friday following last month's deadly earthquake.
Believers say miracles have been granted after prayers to the Axion Esti, or ``Worthy It Be,'' icon of the Virgin Mary. The icon has left the all-male Orthodox Christian sanctuary of Mount Athos in northern Greece a few times this century.
The magnitude 5.9 earthquake on Sept. 7 killed 143 people and left more than 100,000 homeless in the Athens area. Many church buildings were also damaged.
It was the deadliest temblor to strike quake-prone Greece in nearly 50 years. The latest aftershock, a magnitude 4, was felt Friday.
The icon will be displayed for 10 days at St. Panteleimon, Greece's largest church, in central Athens. Money raised from offerings and collections will be used to support the church's earthquake fund.
``In our struggle for life, we beseech you and we plead with you, do not forget your servants,'' Archbishop Christodoulos, head of the Greek Orthodox Church, said at an open-air liturgy.
A procession of soldiers, priests and brightly clad altar boys carried the icon through the streets of Athens from the city's airport to St. Panteleimon, nine miles away.
More than 97 percent of Greece's 10.2 million people are baptized into the Orthodox Church, which is seen by many as one of the guardians of Greek identity.