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Crete, Nomikiana – Festival of Agia Zoni – August 31
In a cave at the base of a cliff near Vouvas village was a chapel of St. George. A man named Bardomanolis built a second small church of Agia Zoni (Holy Girdle of the Virgin Mary) next to it, but both buildings fell into ruin sometime in the 18th century. A chapel devoted to Agia Zoni and St. George was then built on the site. The temple still exists today and is considered to have miraculous powers. According to tradition, Apostle Thomas was not nearby during the Virgin Mary’s Assumption. Arriving on the scene, he asked that the tombstone be lifted to as to worship her. Virgin Mary, however, had been taken up into the heavens, leaving behind on the Holy Girdle found in her tomb. Apostle Thomas took the Holy Girdle for keeping at the Zila diocese of Constantinople. Later, the Girdle of the Virgin Mary was transferred by Konstantinos Romanos Porphyrogenetos to the church of Agia Sura Halkopration on August 31st. To commemorate this event, an important and unusual festival takes place with open-air cooking and free distribution of meat with pilaf. Today, the Holy Girdle is found in Vatopedi monastery in Agios Oros. It is considered the second most valuable relic of Orthodox Christianity after the Holy Cross.