Friday, November 08, 2013

Installation of the Pantocrator in Chapel of the Dormition

One of the faithful women here in Portaria had the idea to commission an icon of the Pantocrator to put in our large chapel dedicated to the Dormition of the Theotokos. It's not a domed church, but rather has a peaked wooden roof.

In fact, the history of this church is complicated and not entirely clear. One professor of Christian archaeology in Thessaloniki, who has seen the church, believes that at least parts of it are quite old, i.e. at least to the Byzantine period. What we know for sure is that it was once a much larger church, constituting the central church of a monastery. At some point, the monastery closed, and during WWII, the Germans, who occupied Portaria, used it to keep livestock. Nevertheless, the people fixed it as best they could and continued to use it sporadically. A priest, Fr. Rigas, lived in one of the tiny monastic cells that still exist next to the church, and served here for a time. From there, the chapel got its common name "Panagia Papariga," or Fr. Rigas' Panagia (Mother of God) church.

After Fr. Rigas died, a pious woman named Georgia took an interest in the church, in the 1970s. She lived in the cell next to the church and used all her pension to fix up the church. It was fixed up on a much smaller scale, essentially keeping just the eastern third of the church. (It is thus appears disproportionately wide now.)

Anyway, back to the story at hand. Since the 1970s, the church has been reconstructed through the various gifts of local people. So this local woman, Foni, wanted to add a Pantocrator icon. She thus commissioned a local woman to paint the icon. On Tuesday, we placed it in the church. Of course, it would be ideal if the ceiling were a bit higher, but this chapel, like most chapels in Greece, are decorated according to the piety and abilities of the people.

Here's the icon after it was installed.

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