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The sacred snakes of Marcopoulos

The church of the Virgin Mary is located in the village of Markopoulos, south of the island. It was built on the site of an old church destroyed by the Turkishs.
According to legend, after a fire in the forest near the village, peasants found an icon of the Virgin not reached by the fire at the foot of a fully calcined tree. They placed in the village church. The next morning the icon was gone. Farmers have found the burned tree where they found initially. Again they transported to the church and the gates were locked. The next day she was found again on the tree brûlé.Les farmers have understood that it was the will of the Virgin as the icon remains there. So they built a church to place the icon there.
Later on the church site was built a convent of nuns. Markopoulos is located 300 meters above sea level and is visible from the sea An initial invasion of Markopoulos convent by pirates took place in the 1400s during which the pirates violated the religious, looted and ransacked the convent . Another attack took place in 1690. When the pirates came for the third time in 1705 the nuns knew the horrors they would meet and have sought the protection of the Virgin. They therefore asked the Virgin to save and the Virgin transformed them into snakes. When the pirates arrived they were frightened by these snakes and fled.
Since then, every year, the snakes come again to the Assumption feast (between 6 and 15 August), they invade the church, and go after the feast of the Assumption. Thousands of pilgrims arrive for the celebration and to see the "serpents of the Mother of God." Nothing remains of the old convent with the exception of the bell tower which appear snakes. These snakes have a black mark in the shape of a cross on top of the head. They enter the church and some even get on the icon of the Virgin.
The islanders check every year whether or not the snakes appear. When the snakes appear, considering that this year is blessed. On the evening of August 5, children light candles to look for snakes around the bell tower. When they find it, they would yell with joy "βγηκανε τα φιδια!" ("The snakes come out).

The snakes did not appear the two times a great disaster struck the island, in 1040, the year Greece entered WWII, and in 1953, when setpents were to appear from the earthquakes destroyed the buildings on the island.

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