The Weeping Icon of Saint Nicholas – Tarpon Springs, Florida - Atlas Obscura

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The Weeping Icon of Saint Nicholas

Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral

No one knows how or why this painting appeared to produce crystallized tears.  


Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral is the spiritual center of Tarpon Spring’s Greek community and the annual epiphany celebration, which is said to be the largest such event in the western hemisphere. Its Byzantine/Gothic Revival architectural style and domed main building are based on the Hagia Sophia. It also happens to be the home of a painting that allegedly sheds tears for no logical reason.

It was a cleaning woman who first noticed droplets of moisture around the eyes of the Icon of Saint Nicholas on December 5, 1970. The phenomenon is said to have continued sporadically thereafter, and the “crystal droplets” were again witnessed on December 14th by Reverend Elias Kalariotes.

Thinking perhaps that condensation was accumulating under the glass enclosure, a carpenter was called in to examine the painting and deemed the enclosure to be airtight. 

Kalariotes then contacted the Greek Archdiocese in New York on December 17th. When Archbishop Iakovos arrived for Epiphany Day, he instructed Kalariotes to have qualified individuals examine the painting and record their observations. 

The icon continued to shed tears during the next three Christmas seasons, until December 8, 1973. Since then, the painting has drawn thousands of visitors.

Interestingly, The Weeping Icon of St. Nicholas is not the only painting in Tarpon Springs said to shed tears. In 1989, there was a similar report of weeping icons at the Greek Orthodox Shrine of St. Michael, just a few blocks away. 

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