Saint Michael’s Shrine, at 113 Hope St. in Tarpon Springs, Florida, is a place where faithful have reported miracles taking place for decades now. It was built 78 years ago to fulfil the promise an ill 11-year-old boy made to the Archangel Michael after the Saint saved his life, according to his sister Goldie Parr.
To this day, people visit the shrine to pray and light a candle, and there are testimonies of true miracles which have happened there.
The story of the icon from the Holy Abbey of Taxiarchis Michael of Panormitis, on the island of Symi in Greece’s Dodecanese, and how it came to St. Michael’s Shrine, began many decades ago.
In June 1937, Maria Tsalickis, wife of Tarpon Springs sponge diver James Tsalickis, visited her birthplace Symi to meet the Abbot Prior Chrysanthos of the Monastery of Taxiarchis Michael of Panormitis. The purpose of the long journey was to fulfill an old promise.
Her husband, who had been in danger while on a voyage, had promised the Abbot Prior that he would make an offering to the Monastery. His wife was proud to deliver an offering of $300 on his behalf. This constituted an enormous sum of money at that time. The Abbot Prior thanked her, and to show his gratitude, he took a small silver icon of Taxiarchis Michael, which was hanging in the Church, and gave it to her.
Maria Tsalickis said that chills of emotion and awe seized her body and soul as soon as she touched the icon. Upon her return to Tarpon Springs, she placed the Holy Icon of Taxiarchis on a table under the Iconostasis.
A year later, on the 6th of November, 1938, she was sitting at home with relatives when all of a sudden they heard the sound of a church bell — the very same bell as that of the Holy Abbey of Taxiarchis of Panormitis, back in Symi. The sound was somehow emanating from the Icon of Taxiarchis, which was on the table. The sound lasted until 3 AM the next day and left everyone dumbstruck with awe.
Maria visited Father Theophilos Karaphilis, the priest of the Church of Saint Nicholas of Tarpon Springs, and told him what had happened. Father Theophilos instructed her to bring the icon to church, where a holy ceremony of breaking the holy bread was performed.
The following day was the Feast Day of Saint Michael Taxiarchis. After eight days, Maria brought the icon home. The extraordinary event of the pealing bells repeated itself the following year, and the next, and the same church ceremony was repeated.
In December 1939, Maria’s second-born son Steve became sick with a high fever and was taken to the hospital, where his condition worsened. He was then diagnosed with a brain tumor, and he fell into a coma. He then suddenly woke up and told his mother, “Mama, I want you to bring me the Icon of the Taxiarchis.”
The mother asked her koumpara to bring the icon to the hospital. As soon as Steve saw the icon, he asked his mother to place it on his chest. He crossed his hands over the icon and began speaking unintelligibly. He then told his mother, clearly, “Mama, Taxiarchis wants you to build his shrine.” Maria automatically said yes, just to satisfy her son.
Steve said, “Mama, say yes with your heart, for he says tomorrow at 10 AM I will be cured.” and Maria replied, “Yes, Steve, yes, my Steve, with all my heart, I will erect his shrine, as long as he wishes it.” The boy then slept quietly until the next day.
The next day Steve was indeed cured, and went back to school only days later. His parents, with much difficulty, erected a small stone chapel in their backyard a year later. Steve, now strong and healthy, grew up to become a popular middle school guidance counselor.
From that day on, several miracles have been reported at the Shrine after many people came there and prayed to the Holy Icon of Saint Michael Taxiarchis. Local papers wrote about a young girl who was blinded and regained her sight; a crippled woman began walking again.
Another woman reportedly got up from her wheelchair after nine failed operations; tumors disappeared; a deaf woman’s hearing was restored, and women who previously had been unable to conceive became pregnant.
Today, Goldie Parr, the daughter of James and Maria Tsalickis and Steve’s sister, tends the shrine, keeping the flame of faith alive. Steve Tsalickis passed away in 2007 — many, many years later than the 24 hours the doctors gave him as a prognosis when he was only 11 years old.
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