HISTORY: The plague destroys Lefkada


In the early 1740s, a plague epidemic ravaged western western Greece. In the spring of 1743, a ship from Messolonghi was transported to his holdings along with the goods and the deadly bacillus of the disease in the port of Messina (Messina) in Sicily. Although the Italian Peninsula had been tested by a plague epidemic in 1720 and the memories were still fresh, the security measures in the Italian port were not enough, with the result that much of the city was infected very quickly and found a death an equally large proportion of its population.

Immediately after the plague, the ships that were moored in Messina departed in various directions. One of them arrived in Lefkada (Santa Maura during those years), which was under Venetian occupation. Immediately after his assault, the first deadly cases on the island occurred. Next month the dead had reached 780. The authorities of the island were surprised and slowed to react.

When the appropriate measures were taken (sanctuary, landfill, etc.), the evil began gradually to recede from the autumn of 1743. In his letter to the Doge of Venice, the Venetian official on the island, Antonio Moro, underlined, between of the others, that the clean air of the area, chosen for the transportation of patients, combined with proper nutrition, contributed decisively to the brief recovery of the perverse. Eventually, everything evolved relatively smoothly and the island was declared free from any plague suspected on  June 10,  1744. In total, one year of the epidemic in Lefkada died 1,800 people, almost one-third of the island’s inhabitants.

During the plague, the local church did not remain with its arms crossed. In August 1743, the hieromonk Matthew transferred to Lefkada the cart of St. Bessarion, Archbishop of Larissa, who was in the monastery of Dusikos, near Trikala. Surviving Lefkadians recognized that they were saved from the terrible illness thanks to the help of the Saint and in honor of him brought up a temple in the place where the pestilence had previously been set up. This area until now is called Agia Kara. The “remembrance of the miracle of freedom of the island of Lefkada from the plague of disease in the year 1743” is honored by the Orthodox Church every year  on June 1st .


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