Greek Villagers Claim Figure of Jesus Has 'Wept Since Syriza Win'

Jesus Icon
The Bishop of Corinth inspecting the icon on his visit to the church. YouTube

A religious icon of Jesus Christ in a small village in Greece has been "weeping" ever since the anti-austerity party Syriza won the Greek elections at the end of January, witnesses say.

According to Corinth TV and the Athens-Macedonian News Agency, the icon, which dates from early last century and is housed in the church of St. Nicholas in the village of Asprokampos, Corinthia, has been secreting an oily liquid since the left-wing party leader Alexis Tsipras, stormed to power on January 26th.

Tsipras' main rallying cry was to renegotiate Greece's debt with the Troika - the European Union, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank - who comprise Greece's biggest international lenders. Tsipras also vowed to reverse the austerity measures which have crippled Greece's economy and left many unemployed, on the brink of poverty and resulted in a shocking increase in suicides.

On Monday, the Bishop of Corinth visited the church and crowds have been flocking there all week, local media reports. Some villagers have taken to 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 southern Peloponnese.