On 24 September South Africans celebrate Heritage Day by remembering the cultural heritage of the many cultures that make up the population of South Africa. Various events are staged throughout the country to commemorate this day. It is also the day that Orthodox Christians honour the Panaghia Myrtidiotissa of Kythera (Greece).
Reverend Fr. Konstantinos Kosmidis officiated at the Service of the Holy Eucharist at the Orthodox Church of Saint Kytiaki in Glencoe in KZN
The Miraculous Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos “Of the Myrtle Tree” (Myrtidiotissa) is in the monastery church of Myrtides on the Greek island of Kythera. It derives its name from the fact that it was found in a myrtle bush in the fourteenth century when a shepherd was tending his sheep in a deserted valley which was filled with myrtle bushes. On September 24, forty days after the Dormition, the Mother of God appeared to him and told him to seek her icon which had been brought to that place many years before.
The shepherd fell to the ground in amazement, praying to the Theotokos. As soon as he got up and turned around, he saw the icon in the branches of a myrtle bush. Weeping for joy, he brought the icon home and told his friends and relatives about how he had found it.
When he awoke the next morning, the shepherd found the icon missing, and thought that perhaps someone had stolen it during the night. With a heavy heart, he led his sheep back to the spot where he had found the icon. To his amazement, he saw the icon once again in the branches of the myrtle bush. Glorifying God, the man took the icon home with him once more. The next morning, it had disappeared just as it had before. When this happened a third time, the shepherd realized that the Mother of God wanted her icon to remain where it had first appeared.
A small church was built to house the icon, and was called “Of the Myrtle Tree,” after the icon. The building was replaced and enlarged over the years, and many miracles took place there.
Many miracles have been associated with the Most Holy Theotokos and her icon “Of the Myrtle Tree” and include protection of the island from the plague, ending the barrenness of a Jewish woman from Alexandria, saving people from death, and many other great wonders.
Reference: The miraculous icon of Panagia Myrtidiotissa – Full of Grace …full-of-grace-and-truth.blogspot.com/…/miraculous-icon-of-panagia.