The Blessed Virgin, mother of God. Most venerated in the Greek orthodox church.
As a young maiden she was betrothed to the carpenter Joseph. The archangel Gabriel announced to her that she would give birth to Jesus. Joseph was also visited by the angel, and told that she had been chosen as the mother of God, and so he realized that she had not been unfaithful.
After the birth of Jesus she did not had other children, amongst others Jacob was also in the holly family.
There are many legends concerning the Virgin Mary. One tells us she settled and died in Ephesus at an old age. 72 angels had appeared to her and told her her time had come and then gave her a palm branch from paradise. The Virgin sent for the apostles, and they sat by her death bed. Christ appeared which an army of angels and took her soul to heaven.
During the funeral procession an Jewish priest tried to prevent them, but his hands stuck to the bier and only St. Peter could rescue him. Eventually her body was taken to heaven as well.
In Greece she is depicted in a red or purple mantle, the colour of queens, usually holding the infant Jesus. Depending on the pose, she is called the Sweet Kisser, the Mother, the Baby Holder etc..
There are several holidays connected to the Virgin Mary in Greece, August 15 being the most important one: the day of the assumption. There are also local holidays. Greeks named after the Virgin can also be called Panagiota or Panagiotis, since that is how most people refer to her: Panagia ("All-saint"), or Despina.
The whole of Mt. Athos is dedicated to the Virgin Mary, and so she is the only female allowed there. Greeks tend to invoke the Virgin Mary rather than God or Christ, and she is especially prayed to in cases of bad health or infertility.
Orthodox nameday: 15/8
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