Author Topic: Remote little chapels in Greece  (Read 493 times)

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Offline David Young

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Remote little chapels in Greece
« on: May 12, 2017, 03:51:09 AM »
My wife and I take an annual spring holiday in Greece (always Epirus, Peleponnese, or Crete), and we always visit little Orthodox chapels. But they puzzle us in two ways. First, why are they where they are? Some are a good two hours walk from the nearest village with no isolated dwellings nearby, or on hilltops which demand a fairly strenuous climb on narrow paths or simply across pathless scrub. Whom do they serve? Secondly, they often contain about half a dozen chairs, so obviously they are sometimes used not only by individuals for private worship and prayer, but also by groups. But who would such groups be?
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Offline Porter ODoran

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Re: Remote little chapels in Greece
« Reply #1 on: May 12, 2017, 04:03:15 AM »
Their use tends to be tied to certain events. Their locations can also have some relationship to the events they're used for. There is also a sense of aloof places and placed of certain kinds of natural beauty being suitable for spiritual reflection. By the way, your ancestors in Merry Old England had similar habits.
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Offline Porter ODoran

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Re: Remote little chapels in Greece
« Reply #2 on: May 12, 2017, 04:06:35 AM »
To expand in a practical direction -- approaching a certain feast day a troop of women perhaps related by blood or geography will head to a certain hillside chapel to clean and decorate it. In the event, candles will be lit and families will come to worship and feast. Afterward, the chapel may lay unused for a year.
"Love ... is an abyss of illumination, a mountain of fire ... . It is the condition of angels, the progress of eternity" (Climacus).

Yes we who are far from sainthood we can recognize a living saint and I'm talking from personal experience.Yes they are gentle soo gentle it can not be described it is like gentleness and humility in one and also they have this light this energy it's beyond words...and when you are

Offline David Young

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Re: Remote little chapels in Greece
« Reply #3 on: May 12, 2017, 04:37:54 AM »
To expand in a practical direction -- approaching a certain feast day a troop of women perhaps related by blood or geography will head to a certain hillside chapel to clean and decorate it. In the event, candles will be lit and families will come to worship and feast. Afterward, the chapel may lay unused for a year.
Thank you. This certainly fits in with what we see. There are always candles available and sometimes even money lying around. Some are beautifully clean, neat and well maintained, others look rather neglected - as I say, the path having faded beneath undergrowth, paint peeling off the walls outside, plaster peeling off inside, maybe even somewhat dank and not very sweet-smelling. Some (regrettably) are locked, but many are open. Not the least beautiful was Agios Pavlos, a good two hours' demanding walk from Agia Roumeli, Byzantine, maybe 1000 years old, well maintained, and open to all comers.

Tell me more...
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Re: Remote little chapels in Greece
« Reply #4 on: May 12, 2017, 05:10:32 AM »
My wife and I take an annual spring holiday in Greece (always Epirus, Peleponnese, or Crete), and we always visit little Orthodox chapels. But they puzzle us in two ways. First, why are they where they are? Some are a good two hours walk from the nearest village with no isolated dwellings nearby, or on hilltops which demand a fairly strenuous climb on narrow paths or simply across pathless scrub. Whom do they serve? Secondly, they often contain about half a dozen chairs, so obviously they are sometimes used not only by individuals for private worship and prayer, but also by groups. But who would such groups be?

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Offline David Young

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Re: Remote little chapels in Greece
« Reply #5 on: May 12, 2017, 08:43:26 AM »

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,64891.0

Thank you. And of course I noticed my typing error, where the strange question Can anyone explain the purchase of such positioning? should have been "the purpose". I'll re-read that thread: I had quite forgotten it. (Look for another next spring?)
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Offline Alxandra

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Re: Remote little chapels in Greece
« Reply #6 on: May 12, 2017, 09:32:48 AM »
I also love to visit these quite little old chapels, they are so peaceful! Some of them are really special because of how old they are. There are some in my home village in Cyprus that are over 900 years old.

They are usually used today for villagers to visit and light a candle and pray, for a feast, and for the occasional baptism or small wedding.


Here is a lovely video of my favourite ones in cyprus!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ou3U3rXTjw4&index=43&list=FLWxMkFnPB2ENm67QaAZr0pg
« Last Edit: May 12, 2017, 09:33:15 AM by Alxandra »
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Offline Agabus

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Re: Remote little chapels in Greece
« Reply #7 on: May 12, 2017, 09:36:23 AM »
Their use tends to be tied to certain events. Their locations can also have some relationship to the events they're used for. There is also a sense of aloof places and placed of certain kinds of natural beauty being suitable for spiritual reflection.

To expand in a practical direction -- approaching a certain feast day a troop of women perhaps related by blood or geography will head to a certain hillside chapel to clean and decorate it. In the event, candles will be lit and families will come to worship and feast. Afterward, the chapel may lay unused for a year.

This is the case of many old chapels in the Deep South in the U.S. as well, though the structures in question aren't Orthodox. Flannery O'Connor's "Christ-haunted South" and all that.

I know of several remote churches in Mississippi, for example, that used to be associated with plantations or villages that no longer exist. In a couple of cases, towns of 2,000-3,000 people moved away as the river shifted (or β€” because of poor agricultural practices β€” the soil itself), and the church, the only building built of brick or stone, is the only thing left standing after 100 years. Descendents use the churches a couple of times a year for weddings or at Christmas/Easter. Same thing with Methodist "camp churches" in North Louisiana and small Catholic structures built in South Louisiana after some family or village miracle.

The places I'm talking about have only been inhabited by a majority Christian population for approximately 300 years (at the most), so I can imagine similar situations having played out many more times in a civilization as old as Greece.
« Last Edit: May 12, 2017, 09:38:55 AM by Agabus »
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Offline Porter ODoran

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Re: Remote little chapels in Greece
« Reply #8 on: May 12, 2017, 11:35:46 AM »
How recently we abandoned our heritage even in America.
"Love ... is an abyss of illumination, a mountain of fire ... . It is the condition of angels, the progress of eternity" (Climacus).

Yes we who are far from sainthood we can recognize a living saint and I'm talking from personal experience.Yes they are gentle soo gentle it can not be described it is like gentleness and humility in one and also they have this light this energy it's beyond words...and when you are

Offline NicholasMyra

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« Last Edit: May 12, 2017, 05:09:23 PM by NicholasMyra »
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Offline David Young

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Re: Remote little chapels in Greece
« Reply #10 on: May 13, 2017, 03:18:20 AM »
To sum up, and adding what I was told when I asked a local Greek before my wife and I walked down to Agios Ioannis Rouva: these remote chapels may have been built because of a dream or a vow, or to commemorate some particular local or family event. They are visited for private prayer, and also by small groups, sometimes coupled with feasting on the grounds outside, on a regular basis, that is, for special days once or more times a year.

Please tell me if I have got it right so far, and if I have missed anything out.

Then please tell me also how it is decided which saint or Person of the Godhead the chapel is dedicated to - e.g. why John in the Rouvas Forest, why Paul near Agia Roumeli, why the Holy Spirit between Armeni and Spili?
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Re: Remote little chapels in Greece
« Reply #11 on: May 13, 2017, 10:22:58 AM »
How recently we abandoned our heritage even in America.

It's almost kind of our thing. Personally, I blame it on Noah Webster and tax evaders.
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Re: Remote little chapels in Greece
« Reply #12 on: May 13, 2017, 11:02:05 AM »
To sum up, and adding what I was told when I asked a local Greek before my wife and I walked down to Agios Ioannis Rouva: these remote chapels may have been built because of a dream or a vow, or to commemorate some particular local or family event. They are visited for private prayer, and also by small groups, sometimes coupled with feasting on the grounds outside, on a regular basis, that is, for special days once or more times a year.

Please tell me if I have got it right so far, and if I have missed anything out.

Then please tell me also how it is decided which saint or Person of the Godhead the chapel is dedicated to - e.g. why John in the Rouvas Forest, why Paul near Agia Roumeli, why the Holy Spirit between Armeni and Spili?
Often the saint appeared there, or it was the baptismal saint name of the commemorated person, or the person who built it. Sometimes probably it is what someone thought was good to be there.
« Last Edit: May 13, 2017, 11:03:22 AM by NicholasMyra »
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Offline David Young

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Re: Remote little chapels in Greece
« Reply #13 on: May 13, 2017, 12:09:50 PM »
...the baptismal saint name of the commemorated person, or the person who built it.

What is a "baptismal name"? Is it the same as your legal name, on your birth certificate? For example, if a chapel is dedicated to Saint Marina (as a number are), does that mean you are called Marina?
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Offline Iconodule

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Re: Remote little chapels in Greece
« Reply #14 on: May 13, 2017, 02:48:43 PM »
...the baptismal saint name of the commemorated person, or the person who built it.

What is a "baptismal name"? Is it the same as your legal name, on your birth certificate? For example, if a chapel is dedicated to Saint Marina (as a number are), does that mean you are called Marina?

That is usually the case. The only typical cases I know of for someone having a patron Saint different from his name are 1 he is named after a feast day or something related to a feast day; 2 he is in a culture where the family has a patron (the Serbian slava) and individuals get local, non-Saint names; 3 he is an adult convert who gets a different name at reception (e.g. Saint Vladimir's actual patron was Saint Basil I think).
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Offline Porter ODoran

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Re: Remote little chapels in Greece
« Reply #15 on: May 13, 2017, 03:14:20 PM »
Rev. Young, I daresay you'd enjoy Portrait of a Greek Mountain Village, by your countrywoman Juliet du Boulay.
"Love ... is an abyss of illumination, a mountain of fire ... . It is the condition of angels, the progress of eternity" (Climacus).

Yes we who are far from sainthood we can recognize a living saint and I'm talking from personal experience.Yes they are gentle soo gentle it can not be described it is like gentleness and humility in one and also they have this light this energy it's beyond words...and when you are

Offline David Young

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Re: Remote little chapels in Greece
« Reply #16 on: May 13, 2017, 05:24:03 PM »
Rev. Young, I daresay you'd enjoy Portrait of a Greek Mountain Village, by your countrywoman Juliet du Boulay.

Thank you. I've added it to my Christmas wish-list for this year. People seldom know what to get me unless they are given some ideas! The Lord permitting, we should be in the Peleponnese next spring, and such a book would be an interesting read to take with me. Our main activities in Greece are to walk, read, eat, sleep, and drink.
"But if you bite and devour one another, take heed that you are not consumed by one another." Galatians 5.15