August 15 - Dekapentavgoustos in Greek - is the third most important holiday for the Greek Orthodox after Easter and Christmas. Often called the Small Easter, August 15 observes the dormition of Virgin Mary and her ascent to heavens. This day is celebrated throughout Greece and Cyprus with a variety of festivities (panigyria) following the solemn church services.
On this day, pilgrims from all over the country flock to the Church of Megalochari situated on a hill on the island of Tinos, Cyclades, in order to worship the miraculous icon of Virgin Mary. The Virgin has proved to have a healing power. Believe it or not, many terminally ill or disabled people were cured by Her Holy Grace. All it takes is faith. To this day, many pilgrims with serious health problems will go up to Her Grace on their knees - a distance of about 3 km - and their knees would often bleed till they reach Her. But they are driven by their deep faith and hope that Her Grace (Megalochari) will cure them just like She has cured many other people. On August 14, in the evening, a wreathe is laid as a memorial to the warship Elli which was sunk on the island of Tinos by an Italian submarine on August 15, 1940.
In Cyprus, August 15 also commemorates the island's two greatest tragedies: the second phase of the Turkish Aggression (August 14, 1974) and Helios Airways Flight 522 Aircrash (August 14, 2005) at Grammatiko 40km from Athens. 121 people lost their lives : a crew of 6 and 115 passengers - 93 adults and 22 children who had been looking forward to their holidays for a long time. It was the deadliest air disaster in Greece and Cyprus.