On a small volcanic island, separated from Kos by a forty fathom chasm, lies the most beautiful story of an awakening of faith. It was recounted to us as we sat surrounded by icons, tourists and sun-burnt bodies.
It so happened that in the eighteenth century when these waters were being marauded by Turkish pirates, one such pirate decided to plunder the monastery on the island of Nissiros. As all good pirates knew, monasteries were treasure chests of gold, silver and all sorts of profitable goods. He was a wise man and left a detachment of men on the ship with instructions to sail away should their captain not have returned by sunset. Only capture or death would keep him from his ship.
He and his men climbed up to the monastery set on top of a sheer cliff face and set about taking what they could. As the captain’s hand reached out for the main icon the doors of the chapel slammed shut and no amount of pounding, pushing and pulling could open them. No amount of screaming, banging or waving could attract their shipmates’ attention.
As sunset drew closer, the captain in desperation threw himself at the foot of the icon and begged forgiveness for having raided this church. If the icon would accept his apology he would never set foot in these waters again and would make a gift to the chapel. As he made his vow a bird flew up and touched the doors with her beak and they flew open. The men were safe.
To this day, there remain gifts in the form of birds or pirate ships as a sign of faith and as one of the miracles of this island.