Hundreds are the names or “Theotokonymia”, as they are called, that the people have given to the Theotokos. So far it is estimated that they exceed 500.
“The naming is usually done depending on the place or the way the illustration has been done,” says the Presbyter Dr. Theology A. Kariotoglou.
Mother, protector, honored, holy person. Panagia holds a leading position in the honor and respect of Christians in every corner of Greece. Majestic churches and humble chapels have been dedicated to her. They call her Theotokos, but they have also given her numerous nicknames.
The Doctor of Theology Mr. Alexandros Kariotoglou, who teaches as an assistant professor at the University of Thessaly, gives the scientific dimension to the plethora of her names.
“There are two main ways in which the names of Panagia are expressed. Depending on the place or depending on the way the illustration has been done.” As Mr. Kariotoglou adds, “there may be a third way of naming, depending on the relationship of Christ with Panagia.”
Mr. Kariotoglou specifically points out: “Apart from Panagia Glykophilousa (sweet kisser), where Christ touches his mother’s cheek, in all the other depictions there is a relative distance, which symbolizes the balanced relationship that the mother should have with the child.”
Among the most famous Panagia, which took their name depending on the geographical location or location of the respective churches, are the following: Panagia Kanala in Kythnos, Panagia Soumela, Panagia Limnia in Lake Evia, Panagia Kykkou in Cyprus, Panagia Ierosolimitissa, Panagia Agiasotissa in Agiasos and Panagia Fodeliotissa in Fodele in Heraklion, Crete.
However, there are other characteristics that determine the place where the church is built, such as: Panagia Spiliani (of the cave), located in Pythagorion Samos but also in Nisyros, Panagia Gremiotissa (of the cliff) located in Ios, Panagia Sarantaskaliotissa (of fourty steps) in Marathokampos Samos, Panagia Thalassini (of the sea) in Andros, built on a rock in the sea, Panagia Kremasti in Ilia, where the Monastery hangs from a rock.
The nicknames of Panagia, however, are attributed to her depending on the way her image is painted.
As Mr. Kariotoglou reminds us, Panagia is also called Glykophilousa, Eleousa (merciful), Vrefokratousa (infant bearer), Megalomata (big eyes), Tbhrinousa (mourning), Dexia (right), and even Tricherousa (three handed). The icon of Panagia Tricherousa is located in the Monastery of Chilandari on Mount Athos.
Another version of the attribution of a nickname to the Theotokos is her correlation with facts or natural phenomena.
A very famous Panagia is Fidousa (or according to others Fidiotissa -of the snakes) in Kefalonia. Every year, near the 15th of August, in the village of Markopoulo of Kefalonia, small and harmless snakes appear and move through the icons of the temples of the village.
Also, in Samos there is the monastery of Panagia Vrontiani (of thunders), which was named so because at the altitude it is located there is a strong wind that thunders.