The Miracle Church of St. Theodora
In a world drowning in materialism and skepticism, miracles have become scarce and more the subject of controversy than a reason to wonder and a gateway to the Supreme. For those who are attentive, miracles reveal the presence of the Supreme Consciousness, the existence of higher degrees of order; they are a very good reason to contemplate the mysteries of Creation, which enables us to access higher levels of consciousness. In this story of Vasta’s miraculous little church, we have an excellent example of a sacrifice performed in the name of a superior ideal. The fact that in an important moment, like the moment of death, St Theodora emitted such pure thoughts which are connected to higher ideals put in motion by the universal forces – the archetypal patterns – results in what appears nowadays as a miracle.
The Church of St. Theodora of Peloponnes – Vasta
The church of Saint Theodora of Peloponnes, in the town of Vasta, is one of the most amazing little churches in the world. In a unique story, in the very same place where the church is built, trees have also grown. However, the trees embrace the little church and to this day they hold it, without destroying it.
Vasta is a town in the Megalopolis municipality, in the Arcadia congregation, Peloponnes, Greece, and it is world-renowned for its “miraculous little church” of Saint Theodora of Peloponnes.
The church of Saint Theodora of Peloponnes – the church from which trees grew
Saint Theodora lived in the 11th century, in the times of the great Byzantine Empire. When the region was attacked by bandits, Saint Theodora had to defend her village as best she could, but as a woman she could not do much. In order to enter the army, she disguised herself as a soldier and became one of the warriors.
According to God’s will, Theodora did not survive the battle. It is said that as she lay there dying, she whispered: “May my body become a church, my blood a river, and my hair the forest.”
Touched by her heroism and bereaved by her loss, the inhabitants of Vasta built a church on the battle place where she passed away into the Lord. The stone church was built by the local people sometime between the 10th and 12th centuries.
Legends about this place tell how a river from that area changed its course, flowing right under the foundation of the church which they had built. Later on, trees started to grow from the roof of the church. Their roots cannot be seen inside the church, nor under the ceiling and also not on the walls of the church. Hundreds of years have passed since then, but the roots are still not visible.
On the roof of the little church built in honor of Saint Theodora of Peloponnes, currently grow 17 enormous trees. Most of them are over 30m high, and some of them are over 1m in diameter. Many of the trees weigh over 1 tonne. Yet, even if the roof of the little church is thin and without any special support, it remains standing as if by a miracle. Scientists have studied the case and they confess their inability to explain how the trees grow on such a thin roof, and how they grow without destroying the church.
Saint Theodora of Vasta was very much loved by the Christians in her region. Wonders did not cease to appear, and many people have found comfort by the saint’s tomb. The Greek Orthodox Church canonized her, and the pilgrimages to Vasta are continuous.
It often happens that Saint Theodora of Vasta is mistaken for Saint Theodora of Alexandria, who, clad in man’s clothes, went off and was received in a monk monastery, naming herself Theodorus. A woman once accused Theodorus for impregnating her, and the saint remained silent, in order not to create confusion. To find out more, please read the life of Saint Theodora of Alexandria.
What do scientists say about the miracle in Vasta?
In 2003, at the fourth symposium of “Archaeometry” in Greece, a geophysical report on the little church in Vasta was presented. Researchers from the University of Patras came to Greece especially to study “the miracle”. The little church was under the protection of the archdiocese of the region, as well as under that of the Minister of Culture, as a Byzantine monument of national value.
The miracle is obvious: the roots of the 17 enormous trees cannot be seen in any of the church’s walls. The roof is only a few centimeters thick and the walls are made of stone, without any cracks or holes. The roots cannot be seen on the inside or on the outside. Because of them, the little church is under great pressure, and over time some minor restoration has been necessary, but that is mainly due to the curiosity of some inexperienced people who have tried to “understand the mystery”. Unprofessional interventions have affected the church’s architecture, though only to a small degree.
They decided to make an ultrasound test, and to analyze each part of the walls. The results of the research offered the researchers the necessary answers in order to receive the approvals needed for the complete restoration of the monument. They observed how the roots have grown through the small free spaces in between the stones of the wall, all the way to the ground. The walls are under constant pressure, and the building has become “a living body”.
The archaeological findings lead to the same conclusion: the way the roots have followed this path and the fact that the church and its roof are untouched is a miracle, which is unique in this world, and unexplainable. Geologist, Loukas Constantin: “There is no geological explanation. It is a continuous miracle”. (1987). Silviculturist, Gheorghe Raptis: “The entire phenomenon is beyond any of man’s logical, natural and scientific explanations”. (1992)
Engineer, Elefterie Beligiannis: “Since the winds that blow in that area have the power to uproot trees, it is clear how much force the 17 trees press upon the roof”. (1986). Architect, Elena Stavrogiannis: “The phenomenon is scientifically unexplainable. Considering the position of the church, its temporary construction and its age, the heavy weight and the winds should have gradually destroyed it. But it is still standing, after so many centuries, without any serious damage”. (1993)
Theologist, archaeologist and historian, Anastasie Tinka: “The entire growth, existence and life of the trees on the roof of the little church of the pious martyr Theodora is amazing, beyond any man’s natural reasoning and explanations. This shows a rare characteristic: God’s intervention for His creature, the making of the miracle”.
Makrigiannis, geologist: “Seventeen giants supported on nothing. All these huge trees are rooted on nothing, or better said, on a roof which is only a few centimeters thick! However, the biggest surprise awaits us inside. There is not even the smallest root coming through the old walls. There is no crack caused by them! When the wind blows through one of the huge trees of the church, its roots form such strong levers, that the small settlement should crash immediately. As a geologist, I know very well that the walls should have been crushed and broken down only under one tree, and they are seventeen”. (1993)
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