The Miraculous Icon of Saint John the Baptist and Forerunner in Illinois

My beloved spiritual children in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE. Ο ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΕΝ ΤΩ ΜΕΣΩ ΗΜΩΝ! ΚΑΙ ΗΝ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΙ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΑΙ.

HOLY ICON OF SAINT JOHN THE BAPTIST
(Translated from the Greek Article in the National Herald)

An unexplained phenomenon has been occurring since July 19th of 2015 in the parish of the Assumption Greek Orthodox church in Homer Glen, Illinois, where an icon of Saint John the Forerunner and Baptist exudes a fragrant liquid (myrrh). The National Herald contacted Father Sotirios Dimitriou, who has served as the priest in the parish since the year 1993, and he said "the icon of Saint John the Forerunner exudes some kind of liquid that has a beautiful scent."

It was first discovered by two female parishioners who usually sit in the first row of the pews, Niki Mihalopoulos and Miki Price. Also, among the first to notice it was the chanter Nikos Angelopoulos. Father Sotirios also said, "I was sick in the hospital when the phenomenon started and when I came out of the hospital I was told immediately," and he added, "when I went to kiss the icon I noticed that indeed there was a certain liquid running, trickles that were fragrant, and I didn't know what it was."

Father Sotitios continued, saying how "as the weeks passed we saw more activity on the icon, more of an outflow of this fragrant liquid (myrrh) coming from the icon of the Forerunner, particularly from the wings, the hands, the beard, the hair, the crown, everywhere." Did only you see this phenomenon and those mentioned above, or the whole congregation?" we asked him. "The congregation also saw it, and were ecstatic because they saw it happening before their eyes," he told us. He informed Metropolitan Iakovos of Chicago and the Chancellor His Grace Bishop Demetrios of Mokissos, who told Fr. Sotirios how "it is a blessing for the parish." Father Sotirios said that "we did not write or publish anything, but the phenomenon has spread by word of mouth," he added, "you are the first I have spoken with. Some have reported it on social media." Father Sotirios listed cases of sick people who were cured of various diseases they suffered and ascribe their treatment to the miraculous intervention of the Forerunner. He said that "a person named John underwent surgery at the University Hospital of Chicago and they removed a tumor from his kidney. When he went home he began to bleed internally. They rushed him again to the local hospital on Christmas and the doctors concluded he needed to have surgery to stop the bleeding, but the oncologist told them to wait. His tumor markers were elevated and he might lose his kidney, and thus, they were going to transfer him back to the University of Chicago Hospital to have surgery there. His cousin went to the hospital to visit him and told him, 'I went to the church and brought you some myrrh from the holy icon. Can I anoint you?' And he said, 'Yes, please.' After he was transferred, the next morning the doctors examined him and said there was no need to submit him to any surgery, everything was alright and the blood from his stomach was absorbed by his body and the bleeding has now stopped and he wasn't going to lose his kidney." John praised God and Saint John for this miracle!

Father Sotirios added how "a man came to church and told me, 'Fr. Sotirios, I came to kiss the icon and become Orthodox.' Father Sotirios mentioned other situations, such as himself. He said, "I was in and out of the hospital for the previous years, but from September 15th until today I haven't returned to the hospital, nor do I take medication." The holy icon was made 16 years ago by Mr. Panagiotis Mihalopoulos. When I asked Father Sotirios what his parishioners were saying about it, he said, "They feel it is a blessing from God, words cannot describe it. Others have come from neighboring communities because it has spread by word of mouth."

The parish of the Assumption of the Theotokos consists of 200 families and was established in 1916. Previously it was in the area of Olympia Fields, while it moved to its current location 4 years ago. When we asked Father Sotirios what the priesthood meant to him, he said, "Everything, words cannot describe it. My greatest joy is when I stand before the Holy Altar and perform the Divine Liturgy. When I serve the people and offer them Holy Communion," and he added, "For me this sign of the holy icon is a miracle."

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Please note: It would be truly a blessing for us to hire a bus and to visit the parish and venerate the holy and miraculous icon of Saint John the Forerunner. Please let me know how many of you are interested and would be willing to take this little trip. As you all know, on August 29th, every year, we celebrate the holy Feast-Day of the Beheading of Saint John the Forerunner and Baptist. It is always a strict fast on this holy day.

With love in Christ,

Fr. George