St. Nicholas Weeping Icon
Tarpon Springs, 1970
One of the most venerated objects in St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral, Tarpon Springs, Florida, is an Icon of Saint Nicholas. It is a painting framed under glass and kept in an elaborately carved, glass-covered enclosure just inside the cathedral’s main entrance. The Icon is known as “The Weeping Icon of Saint Nicholas.”
Thousands of people have come on pilgrimage to see this weeping icon. No one has been able to explain its weeping.
A cleaning woman was the first to notice the tears, December 5, 1970. She discovered drops of moisture around the eyes of the painting, though it is tightly enclosed in a glass case.
Over the next several days, parishioners also saw the ‘crystal-like’ droplets on the Icon. From then on “tears” continued to develop from time to time.
The priest, the Rev. Elias Kalariotes, saw the tears on December 14. During a gathering of the Jr. GOYA, a youth fellowship, John Xipolitas watched with amazement as the mysterious “crystal droplets” developed on the Icon and he called Fr. Elias. The group knelt in prayer before the Icon of St. Nicholas and after that the “tears” began to increase in a steady flow. Father Elias could not explain the “tears.
The next day Fr. Elias called in a carpenter to examine the case. After the carpenter said the case was airtight, they exposed the Icon to strong sunlight and the tears kept on weeping.
Father Elias notified the Greek Archdiocese in New York City on December 17th. Archdiocesan officials said it was a “phenomenon beyond human comprehension.” Prayer services continued until the Archbishop came for Epiphany Day.
When Archbishop Iakovos arrived, he examined the Icon. He instructed Father Kalariotes to have qualified persons examine it and state their findings so that “belief may be strengthened or disbelief established.” Father Elias had been asked, “What is the message? He replied, “Only time will reveal the message. Our Church authorities are very cautious to make an official statement. They will not come to any conclusion until they have gathered all the facts and after the Icon has stopped weeping. Presently, it is a message from God.”
The icon continued to weep tears during the Christmas season for three more years. December 8, 1973, was the last time the Icon was observed weeping.
St. Nicholas is the Patron Saint of the Gulf coast sponge fishing community in Tarpon Springs, as well as the Patron Saint of the Cathedral in Tarpon Springs.