Forgotten Churches

Living History

Tuesday, July 26th, 2011

In lay-terms, archaeology is pretty much a tool that helps those in the field gain enough confidence to write chapters of history. A bit like CSI, Crime Scene Investigation, in most cases, without a crime. Once archaeologists are confident with results from ‘scene investigation’, they then write what they consider to be the history of a place, monument, artifacts, behaviour, people etc.

With this in mind, we teamed up with Kythera’s Metropoliti to conduct an annual service in Agios Kosmas on Saturday, which in a way created living history, a service very similar to when the 720 year old church was constructed. Even more historic is that Agios Kosmas was built using from materials from public buildings (including a temple) from approximately 1900 years earlier. Living history and showcasing Hellenic culture in a number of ways. Below are a few photos from the 2011 annual Agios Kosmas service.

Kythera's Metropoliti, Bishop Seraphim conducted a service much like those held in Agios Kosmas over the last 720 years. If you look closely, there's 2600-year old Doric columns in the background.

Reawakening Agios Yioryios Paliokastro & Better Access to a (Probable) Temple to Aphrodite
Sunday, July 23rd, 2011

There’s more to the We Dig Kythira movement than just archaeology, as most of the team has been actively participating in a number of community projects. This goes beyond a purely ‘scientific’ approach to archaeology, including community service as part of the overall scope of the project.
However, a geographic link to archaeology exists between two forgotten churches at Paliokastro – Agios Kosmas near the lower peak of the mountain, at the top of the path we are excavating, and Agios Yioryios up higher. An ancient sanctuary is located behind Agios Yioryios, one that some archaeologists believe incorporated a temple to Aphrodite, a very important deity to Kythera.
So opening up a path to Agios Yioryios now provides better access to the church and the probable location of a temple to Aphrodite. A reawakening service at Agios Yioryios was held by Kythera’s Metropoliti, Bishop Seraphim on Friday, July 22nd.

Kythera's Metropoliti, Bishop Seraphim hiking up the mountain for a reawakening service at Agios Yioryios, Paliokastro

It was a moving occasion

 

Several different generations of Kytherians and Phillokytherians got to experience this special event

Making the Seemingly Impossible, Possible

As far as I know, Profitis Elias is the most difficult church to access in Kythera.
It’s perched on the edge of a small mountain peak near the airport, with thick, sharp foliage along a steep climb to the church. The archaeological team staying nearby in the Agia Moni monastery committed to clearing a path leading to Profitis Elias, opening access for the first service there in decades.

What’s the point?
Well, it’s an exercise regarding hope.
That if a solution can be found to a problem that some said was impossible to solve, it gives people hope regarding other problems, such as the economic crisis in Greece and around the world.

The Profitis Elias reawakening service was held on Thursday July 21st, led by Kythera’s Metropoliti, Bishop Seraphim. It was a moving event as you can see, the photos say it all.

A steep climb up the side of the mountain.






Jimmy Galakatos deserves huge thanks, for putting in a super-human effort in leading trail cutting up the mountain. The team of volunteers associated with KIPA and the archaeological dig as well. Theo (Theodoraki) Poulos has also helped immensely.

This is walk before path cutting began, when 10 of us did a reconnaissance hike.

Jimmy and Theo looking pretty happy after reaching the top of the mountain where Profitis Elias is perched.

Last year the team helped open a walking trail to Agios Kosmas, which led to the first service there in probably over a century.

This year the team will help bring life back to Profitis Elias, Koutsokefalo by opening a trail and assisting the Metropoliti, Bishop Seraphim in holding a service there.

Cutting a path is also a physical activity that will bring together a cross section of volunteers – from local Kytherian farmers, to students and members of the Diaspora, hence providing a sense of unity, gained through banding together and helping out.

A path will also be cut from Agios Kosmas to Agios Yioryios at Paliokastro, enabling the first Agios Yioryios service in over a century. Agios Yioryios is located next to where an ancient sanctuary (from perhaps 800BC) to a female deity has been found, the oldest Hellenic sanctuary of this kind discovered on the island so far. Some believe it is a very early Hellenic sanctuary to Aphrodite, Kythera’s best-known ancient diety. From text at least, little has been found scientifically so far.

The dates for special ‘forgotten church’ services are;
Tuesday July 19th, 8.30am – Agios Kosmas annual service, Paliokastro

Wednesday July 20th (night) – Profitis Elias esperinos service

Thursday July 21st, 8.30am – Profitis Elias (main) reawakening service

Thursday July 28th, 8.30am – Agios Yioryios, Paliokastro reawakening service

Here’s a 360 degree panorama taken at Profitis Elias on May 15th by Fivo Tsaravopoulos.

Here’s a video showing where Profitis Eliasis.

Profitis Elias, Koutsokefalo, a small Byzantine church on the edge of a mountain/hill near Kythera's airport. Photo by: Elias Marsellos

Need to clear a walking trail to Profitis Elias, reopening access to the general public. Photo by: Elias Marsellos

About 300-500m of path needs to be cut, up the side of the mountain from the end of the dirt road, to the church.

Profitis Elias is a nice little church, with a reawakening service by Kythera's Metropoliti planned on Thursday July 21st. This will be very special, try and come along. Photo by: Elias Marsellos

Bringing Life Back to Agios Kosmas

Bringing Life Back to Agios Kosmas. After opening a walking trail, our team assisted Kythera's Metropoliti, Bishop Seraphim during July 2010 - in organising the first service in Agios Kosmas for probably more than a century.

This is Agios Yioryios, at the top of the Palioksatro mountain. A path will be cut from Agios Kosmas to Agios Yioryios in July, to enable an Agios Yioryios reawakening service on the morning of July 28th. Probably the first service in this church in over a century.Don't miss out! Photo by Elias Marsellos

2 comments on “Forgotten Churches

  1. Jo Souris on said:

    HI Great shots but where is my mother ?
    Love Cousin

    • Rebecca Messina on said:

      Whom can I contact in Kythera? I am so moved by these photos. Is there an church historian whom I may contact to get information about my Grandfather, Fr. Kosmas Leontarakis? I believe he served in one of these two churches? Please advise. Thank you. Mrs. Messina

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