Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Greek Mountain Village of Kissos

On January 6, we celebrated the feast from 8:00 until about 11:30, ending again with the Great Blessing of the Waters. Bad weather was rolling in, so one or two of the priests from the other parishes ran down to the beachfront in Horefto to bless the Aegean. They must have finished just in the nick of time, too, as the rain, wind, and snow soon came howling in. We were quite fortunate to have sunny weather for our house blessings the day before.

I then had a wonderful lunch with the family of one of the parish council members. Later, two of the parish council members took me for about a 40-minute drive to another of the 24 Pelion mountain villages, this one of Kissos, which boasts one of the oldest churches in Pelion still in use -- St. Marina, from 1650.

The photo above is of a Nativity Scene set up in the courtyard just outside the church.

Most of the churches of the villages of Pelion, which date from the period of Ottoman Occupation, have similar features. They are fairly low, basilica style churches with stone slab roofs. Although there is the traditional entrance at the west end of the church, they seem to utilize a south side entrance more. The photo above is of the iconography above the south side entrance.

I don't know if you can tell from this photo, but the Archangel Michael, depicted on the left, has several faces located in his armor.

We met the parish priest, Fr. Michael, and had a very interesting discussion with him. He described the iconography of the church as pious folk art, rather than belonging to one of the particular schools of iconography, such as the Macedonian School or the Cretan School.

Above, the south-east side of the church from its courtyard. Below, the eastern side.

Above, the rectory, located on the northern side of the church. A rectory like this is typical of the Pelion village churches.

Above, some of the iconography from inside the church.

After Fr. Michael treated us to a coffee and very interesting conversation, particularly about his work with the young people in his parish, we headed back to Zagora. The following morning, Jan. 7, we celebrated Orthros and Liturgy for St. John the Forerunner, and then I headed back to Thessaloniki.

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