Hempstead NY Weeping Icons at St. Paul's Greek Orthodox Church
The History of the 1960 Weeping Icons
Mrs. Pagona Catsounis was praying before her Icon at her home in Island Park on the evening of March 16, 1960 she noticed a tear drop sourcing from the left eye and rolling down her cheek. On March 18th she called Fr. George Papadeas, the pastor at St. Paul who drove to her home that evening. After seeing the tears himself he called Archbishop Iakovos who arrived at the home on March 21st. By then a small tear crystallized in the corner of the eye. She was in tears for three days and then stopped.
After a long silent By then a small tear crystallized in the corner of the eye. She was in tears for three days then stopped. After a long silent contemplation Archbishop Iakovos directed that the Icon be taken to St. Paul to be enshrined. On March 23rd a procession of many cars, carrying parishioners and Clergy, drove the Icon to the Church and upon reaching it's front walk, three white doves appeared swooping over the limousine and multitude of people who had gathered at the entrance. After the Divine Liturgy, Fr. George remarked that "A Great Sign, and a Special Blessing from above has come to us....and to the world". St. Paul then became a Church crowned with a "Special Blessing", and a steady stream of visitors came from near and far to venerate the Icon.
On April 12, 1960 Mrs. Antonia Koulis of Oceanside noticed that her lithograph of "Panagia Portraitissa" began to cry. Fr. George, along with the parish Council president, drove to the home. Archbishop Iakovos arrived in the evening and instructed the Icon to be taken to St.Paul on Holy Thursday, April 14. Again thousands of people flocked to witness the tears of the second Icon. Archbishop Iakovos wrote to the Patriarch about the events, and his reply gave an official pronouncement that the Manifestation of the Weeping Icons were "Divine Signs".
To pacify the doubters, reporters, and non-believers the second Icon was removed from it's frame to see where the tears were emanating. There was no source of tears or moisture on the back of the lithograph. A major New York paper called and asked to have the tears analyzed at a laboratory. The results showed that "the tears were of a oily nature which couldn't be classified among the known elements".
On May 7, 1960 Mrs. Antonia Koulis called to say that the Icon which was given to her by Bishop Athenagoras of Elaias on behalf of the parish to replace the one she gave to the Church, was tearing profusely. This Icon, also know as "panagia the Hodegetria", was placed next to the other at St. Paul. This Icon, is now in possession of the Koulis daughter, but it's tears, too, had been examined and unexplained.
Some years later St. Anna's Philoptochos Society of St. Paul raised and donated funds to create a mosaic masterpiece to enshrine our two Weeping Madonna's. In addition to the shrine area itself, the entire Northeastern wall is covered with magnificent mosaic scenes depicting the life and dormition of the Virgin Mary. They are a sight to behold and a fitting tribute to the three manifestations. St. Paul Church, proclaimed a Cathedral in 1988, was founded on the cardinal virtues of faith, love, and hope, and there family of devoted parishioners and Clergy, Fr. Nicholas Magoulisa and Fr. Joakim Valasiadis, continue to possess a vibrant spirit worthy of being chosen as caretakers of there beloved Weeping Madonna.
'Daddy, Jesus Just Told Me To Touch The Picture And Pray'
Reported in [SpiritDaily]. A month ago, on the way out to an event on Long Island, we stopped to see two miraculous icons. They are in Hempstead at St. Paul's Greek Orthodox Church. You can feel the grace. You can also feel the presence of Mary. Our prayers seemed so strong.
The most touching moment came when our seven-year-old tugged at my sleeve and whispered, "Daddy, Jesus just told me to touch the picture and pray." This is most uncharacteristic of her. She's not prone to such things. She was anxious to get going on our trip -- anxious to get out of a church that was celebrating its Good Friday (May 3) and drive to the hotel (where there was a swimming pool).
But suddenly here she was with this tremendously serious and pious countenance. I watched in astonishment as she stepped to a large wall mosaic of the Virgin -- not the miraculous ones, but a mosaic behind the two miraculous icons -- and touched the image that dwarfed her and closed her eyes. Meanwhile, with no urging from us, our six-year-old son, who's even more rambunctious, had silently fallen to his knees, closed his eyes, and clasped in hands in angelic prayer.
We stood with a wonderful member of the parish, Thecla Johnides of Manhansett Hills, who showed us around the incredible church -- one of the most beautiful we have seen in the United States -- and spoke about the weeping icons, which represent Our Lady of Perpetual Help and the Lamenting Mother of God. You can see the stains where the icons wept back in the 1960s, making headlines around the world. There are still graces. People see the eyes slowly open and close and there are reports of miraculous healings. A third icon was taken to Florida.
What a shame that Catholics and Orthodox are split. They are so similar. They both love the Virgin so much. It was a joy, just a couple weeks hence, to watch as the Pope visited an Orthodox church in Sofia, Bulgaria, and prayed. It's only when we extend hands out to each other with love that the gap between denominations will be bridged. It is not bridged when we disdain each other. It's not bridged when we have spiritual pride. It is not bridged when we think we and we alone are loved by God. When we die, God is less likely to give us a theology test than to evaluate how much and who we have loved.
Does that mean we compromise? Does that mean theology isn't important? Of course not. It means we pray. And we prayed before those two miraculous icons. So did our kids. To them, there was no divide; there was no antagonism; there was only a voice that brought them and then us to our knees.
May 25, 2003 Church near New York city with tearing Icons reports alleged healing of tumor
Reported in [Spirit Daily]. A church near New York City that has reported phenomena in association with weeping icons for the past four decades has informed its congregation that another "miracle" has taken place, this time the apparent healing of a young boy.
In its March 30 bulletin the church, St. Paul's Greek Orthodox in Hempstead on Long Island, said that the pastor, Father Nicholas J. Magoulias, was approached by the cousin of an eight-year-old boy named Brian who was suffering from serious head tumors. The encounter took place during a tour of the church by six graders from a nearby school.
According to the official bulletin, which withheld the name of the youngster, Father Magoulias presented the cousin with a vial of oil from lamps that burn near icons of Our Lady of Perpetual Help and the Lamenting Mother of God that shed tears in the 1960s. She in turn gave the holy oil (available at the church) to the child's mother, who waited two days, apparently because the boy resisted, but then started putting it on him at night while the infirm youngster was asleep.
"A week later the doctors told them that another tumor was growing in the top of his head," the cousin related to parish authorities. "They said they saw it for a while, but thought it was scar tissue until they realized it was growing. So, three weeks after his last operation, he was now [going to undergo] another surgery. The morning of the operation the doctor took one last x-ray. To his amazement the tumor had shrunk considerably, in fact, it was almost completely gone. The doctor told them that he cannot explain it medically and was quite confused that the tumor should shrink so much as to almost completely disappear. He even suggested that he might not even operate. He chose to go ahead anyway. When he opened him up, the tumor was almost entirely gone and what was left were tissues."
Priests at the church, which is Greek Orthodox, told Spirit Daily they receive on average at least two credible reports of similar miracles each year. The miracles originally involved three icons that shed tears in private homes in the vicinity and were given to the church. Two remain at the church, while a third is now in Florida. It all began on March 16, April 12, and May 7 of 1960. In addition to tears, the eyes on one of the icons were seen moving for hours -- garnering world attention (even that of future president Richard Nixon) -- and when the first icon was processed to church, "a trinity of white sea gulls, soaring against the blue sky over Island Park, heralded the enshrinement of the Madonna of the Tears," reported the New York Journal American -- escorting a procession of thirty cars and circling over the church as services were conducted. Hundreds of thousands began to visit the beautiful church on Long island just east of New York.
March 15, 2010 - 50 years later, remembering weeping Virgin Mary icon
Reported in [Newsday]. Though 50 years have passed, Pagona Catsounis vividly remembers looking up during her daily prayers in her Island Park home to see the icon of the Virgin Mary appearing to weep. "I was so scared," said Catsounis, then 18, a new bride and a recent immigrant to Long Island from her native Athens. Catsounis said she and her husband, Peter, kept the strange occurrence to themselves for several days, worried it could be a sign of something bad to come. Then they called their priest at the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of St. Paul in Hempstead.
Within days, their tiny apartment was overrun with both believers and skeptics who wanted to see the lithograph of the weeping Virgin. "The police closed our street because so many people were lined up," Catsounis recalled last week. Tuesdaymarks the 50th anniversary of the day Catsounis says the icon began weeping. Since the spring of 1960, the icon has been kept at the church on Cathedral Avenue. Anniversary services there last night and Tuesday were expected to draw scores of people of many faiths who say the icon changed their lives. "It's unbelievable," said the Rev. Luke Melackrinos, dean of the cathedral. "There are still miracles being performed to this day."
Second Icon found weeping
In April 1960, about a month after Catsounis said her icon began to cry, her aunt in Oceanside made an amazing discovery of her own: The icon of the Virgin Mary that Antonia Koulis kept at her home also was weeping, church officials said. With the two icons ensconced at the cathedral in Hempstead, word of the so-called miracles quickly spread. Local and national media flocked to the church, and busloads of people arrived from neighboring states every week for nearly a year, recalled the Rev. Nicholas J. Magoulias, who now is retired.The next month - May 1960 - a full-page feature in Life magazine included a photograph showing pilgrims lined up outside St. Paul's to see the icon, and Newsday sent four reporters, all of whom said they could not explain the tears.
"I had to be convinced. I was skeptical," said Newsday reporter Jim Hadjin, who wrote a first-person account for the paper after a priest allowed him to take the lithograph from its frame and examine it. "Miracle is a pretty strong word, but I don't see what else it could have been," he said. Also in May, a third icon of the Virgin Mary - this one, too, belonging to Koulis - appeared to be weeping, church officials said. This icon today remains with Koulis' relatives in Florida. Chemists, engineers, art experts and others were unable to explain the phenomenon. Skeptics dismissed the tears as the result of condensation. Whatever the cause of the phenomenon, in a matter of weeks each of the icons no longer appeared to weep. The crowds petered out after about a year, though church officials believe the icons have bestowed miracles ever since on people who have prayed to them.
Lauren Bove, 33, of Huntington, says she was blessed with a miracle in 2006, after her son Matthew was diagnosed at 15 months with liver cancer. The cancer had spread to form a tumor in his brain, she said, with most doctors telling her there was no hope he would recover. A friend gave her some of the blessed oil kept near the icons and she rubbed it on her son daily, she said. Hours before Matthew was set to have brain surgery, a doctor who took an MRI of his head told Bove that her son's tumor had vanished, she said. Though he needed further surgery on his liver, he has been cancer-free for more than two years, she said. "I definitely know that it was so much more than medicine," said Bove.
To this day, Catsounis remains mystified about why God would have chosen her to witness what she believes was a miracle. "I don't have any idea," she said. Melackrinos has his own theory about why the icons wept. "We live in a world that has fallen away from faith," he said. "People don't look with their spiritual eyes anymore unless something wakes them up."