The Dilemma of the Oil Lamp

During the Bulgarian occupation of the town of Drama in Northern Greece lived a widow with her five children. Deprivation, disease, famine and death had taken over the town.

On the eve of the Annunciation on the 24 th March 1942, the widow found herself in a

dilemma. With only one hundred grams of flour and very little olive oil left, she had very little

to feed her children.

She looked towards her vigil lamp which hung by her icon corner, and noticed it was snuffed out. What would she do? How could she possibly leave the vigil lamp unlit on the eve of such a significant feast-day of our church? Yet, her mind also turned to her hungry children. Should she use the oil to feed her children, or to light the vigil lamp?

Nevertheless, with great determination and faith she made the sign of the Cross and told the All-Holy Mother of God, “My All-Holy Mother! I shall light the vigil lamp because the day

which is breaking is of great significance to our faith; however, You take care and feed my


She took the very little amount of oil which remained and lit the vigil lamp. Its joyous light

illumined the humble home, and her heart was filled with warmth and serenity.

The next day, after the Divine Liturgy, the widow opened the kitchen cupboard in order to

reach for the small amount of flour which remained. She couldn’t believe her eyes. In front of

her she found an oil can filled to the very top, and two bags of flour and spaghetti!

The woman without saying a word to anyone, Crossed herself, praised God and thanked the Theotokos many times for their providence.

For two years, the oil can miraculously never emptied! The family were able to use the oil to

exchange it with other types of food, and to give to others in need. However, the vigil lamp

remained lit day and night. Such was the strong faith of this blessed widow.

Source: “Experiences During the Divine Liturgy”, Protopresbyter Stephanos K.


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