The current church is a basilica with a polygonal tympanum at the dome. It was built in 1869 on the site of an older church. According to local legends, an icon of the Virgin Mary was miraculously found by local fishermen in the strait between Kythnos and Serifos.
Tradition has it that a column of light revealed the location of the icon, which was painted by Saint Luke, to the fishermen. However, there is no such icon in the church today. A highly respected and exceptional work of art stands in its place. It was painted by Emmanuel Skordilis in 1575 and belongs to the Cretan School. The icon’s hagiographic motif is that of the Virgin Hodegetria.
Panagia Kanala is the largest Orthodox pilgrimage site on Kythnos and one of the most important in the Cyclades. Its feast day celebrations on August 15 are renowned all over the Aegean. A procession of the icon and a reenactment of the way that the venerated original icon was found take place during the celebrations.
-Panagia Kanala is also mentioned in the poem «Cycladic» by Nikos Gatsos, whose music was composed by Manos Hatzidakis.
- The fact that there are 359 churches on a small island like Kythnos, which is only 19km long, doesn’t actually go without saying. However, it is indicative of the piety of the locals who are seafarers used to living in difficult conditions.