Centuries ago the icon of Panagia Tsambika was located at the Holy Monastery of Panagia Kykkos in Cyprus. In a miraculous manner, the icon would leave Cyprus and go to the mountain Zambiki of the Archangel in Rhodes. This would upset the monks of Kykkos and they went to great lengths to confine the icon.
On Mount Zambiki, the icon hid in a cypress tree. In the opposite region near the spring of Aimahiou a humble shepherd lived and saw a light coming from Zambiki. He climbed the mountain and went to see what was there and was amazed along with a few others that went with him that the light came from the icon of the Virgin Mary on the cypress tree, and it lit the icon like a vigil light. It was from this that the icon received its name ‘tsamba’ which in local Rhodes dialect means ‘spark.’
The villagers brought the icon to the village but the icon would leave and go back to the spot it was found. After three repeated attempts it was figured that it was the will of Panagia to have a church built on that spot.
It should be noted that the miraculous icon of Panagia Tsambika came from Cyprus three times. The monks of Kykkou Monastery located the icon in Rhodes and they took it back to Cyprus, but it came back to Rhodes. In order to make sure it was the same icon, the monks burned the back of it and it can still be clearly seen today.
From this time, the icon has never left Rhodes. There were attempts to take it to other parts of Greece, however, it would always miraculously return to Rhodes. The Holy Monastery of Panagia Tsambika celebrates its feast day on September 8 to honour the Nativity of the Theotokos.
One of the oldest miracles associated with Panagia Tsambika is tied around the buildings which surround the Monastery. These buildings belonged to a Turkish Pasha whose wife was unable to bear children. Learning of Panagia Tsambika, his wife prayed to her and ate the wick which burned the fire of the vigil lamp before the holy icon. Soon thereafter she found out she was pregnant, though the Pasha did not believe it and assumed the baby was from another man. When the baby was born, it held within its hand the wick the mother had eaten. As a thank you, the Pasha gave all his property to the surrounding Monastery to the Monastery.
Panagia Tsambika (Virgin Mary Tsambika) is now visited by thousands and thousands of couples from all around the world each year (both Greek and non-Greek) who have struggled to conceive or who wish to have their baby or child blessed for one reason or another. Childless women have walked barefoot up to her monastery, which is located high on top of a hill and pray to the Virgin Mary to help them conceive.
This challenge involves climbing 292 steps and many women who have conceived after falling pregnant have named their child Tsambikos, if it is a boy and Tsambika if it is a girl or choose something else to give back to the Monastery as a way of honouring Panagia Tsambika and thanking her.
The Monastery of Panagia Tsambika is located about 25 km south of Rhodes Town, between Kolymbia and Archangelos. The old monastery of Tsambika is built on top of a hill with a gorgeous view of the sea and the surrounding area, while the new monastery, which is where the Icon of Panagia is found, is on the road that connects Archangelos to Rhodes Town.
*For anyone who would like to know more you can call the Monastery on 22440 22340