According to villagers near Corinth, a religious icon of Jesus Christ is “weeping” an oily substance— and has been since January 26, 2015— the day of the recent elections in Greece when the left-wing party Syriza came to power.
According to local news sources, the icon, which dates from early 20th century and is housed in the church of St. Nicholas in the village of Asprokampos in the region of Corinthia, has been secreting an oily liquid since Alexis Tsipras— an atheist, became the country’s new prime minister.
On Monday, the Greek Orthodox Bishop of Corinth visited the church and crowds have been flocking there all week. Some villagers are guarding the church to ensure that nobody removes the icon or tries to take a sample of the ‘tears’.
A senior church official has expressed his desire for scientists and Greek Orthodox superiors to investigate the occurrence.
Many Greeks have dismissed the news story as little more than a joke. The Greek investigative journalist, Yiannis Baboulias, told Newsweek, “The weeping icon is an urban legend that resurfaces every now and again in Greece. Stories like this happen all the time, and this one is really funny.”
Baboulias says the aim of stories about ‘weeping’ religious icons are usually a way for the Greek Orthodox Church to attract more attention and followers. “What is really happening,” according to Baboulias, “is simply that the paint on the icon is starting to leak due to environmental changes.”
However, Baboulias points out that linking the tears to Syriza’s victory is a new take on the legend and reveals much about the relationship between the Greek Orthodox church and Greek politics.
“The Greek church is not an apolitical entity”, says the journalist. “Different church officials back different political powers very openly – it’s a mixed bag.”
Corinthos, where the church is situated, is a Golden Dawn stronghold, and the party gained one of its highest percentages there in the last election. Greece’s far-right, anti-immigrant party came third in the January election, with strong pockets of support in both Athens and the Peloponnese, where Corinthia is situated.