Adam and Eve my little apple trees

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Grown from pips!

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Kimberly, Tom and Kristian

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Dear Friends in Christ,
I hope that you are all well and safe. I apologise for my disappearance but I have recently started “offcially” chanting at two (!) parishes in the suburbs of Thessaloniki. In fact, I am so busy chanting all the time (or preparing for the services) and I spend so much time in church that I sometimes have to politely decline a chanting obedience since I cannot be in both parishes at the same time 🙂
Church services in Greece have dramatically multiplied since the release of the lockdown, for as long as it lasts, so chanters are in great demand as there is no end to our vigils, processions and forty days liturgies!

How are the churches doing in your countries?

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PS. Not my hand 🙂 This is from a spiritual brother in Lesvos who is the closest I have known of a “bird whisperer” 🙂
Christ is in our midst!

Kandylakia: History and Traditions of the Roadshine Shrines in Greece

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The small roadside shrines scattered here and there, along the curvy roads in Greece, are an important part of the Greek culture.

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History and Traditions of Kandylakia

During any trip to Greece, travellers come across, photograph and wonder about these shrines. Known as kandylakia the roadside shrines are usually made of wood, stone, metal or concrete. Clearly visible on the edges of the narrow winding mountainous roads, they commemorate the lives both lost and saved.

Over the years, in the farthest mountainous villages that can only be reached through narrow dark roads — many tales of frightening rides have been recounted over and over again. The challenging terrain marked with these shrines gives the traveler a sense of caution and an opportunity of spiritual reflection.

Some of these shrines are as old as the roads, built in the middle of nowhere with a flame of a candle burning inside.

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Kandylakia are emblems of an old tradition which is greatly valued in most of the households and very much preserved until this day.

Unique characteristics of the roadside shrines

Although road accidents are mostly the reason for placing these shrines –a driver soon learns to assess the danger of a particular turn simply by calculating the number of Kandylakia,  3, 4 or 5 !!!! –on numerous occasions they are placed as a promise and a gesture of thankfulness. They celebrate miracles and those who survived dedicate a kandylaki to their patron saint. Another reason for these shrines is a way to indicate that there is a monastery or church in vicinity especially in less populated areas where the church might be completely out of sight.

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Some churches which are located far away from the villages are now being locked up to protect them from theft. In such cases, small proskynitaria are erected in front of the church to allow the worshippers to light a candle and to say their prayers.

If you admire them closely, you will notice that every shrine has an icon of a saint. Sometimes, there is even more than one kandyli which is a floating wick oil lamp, flowers and personal items. It is a custom that every anniversary relatives and loved ones pay a visit to the shrine which draws upon the ecclesiastical tradition. This tradition represents the Greeks outlook on religion, family ties, remembrance of family history, culture and finally fate. These unique roadside shrines are there to remind us to appreciate every second and every opportunity to be alive.

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Sources: Fly me to the Moon and Messy Nessy Chic

Archangel Michael Monastery in Pella

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The monastery of Archangel Michael is a precious and invaluable adornment of the whole region.

Its rich and long history, its national and religious offer, its imposing bearing and the frescoes of the interior of the temple, distinguished by the unique sweetness in the faces, as well as realism in its movement, its revival and its upward course tends to highlight it in one of the largest pilgrimages of Northern Greece, as its surrounded by rich flora and fauna.

Tradition wants the Monastery to be built on an ancient sanctuary dedicated to the Artemis hunting goddess due to the rich flora and fauna of the area.

Today it is proved, by documents that are saved in the Holy Monastery of the Greatest Lavra of Mount Athos, and by elements of the previous century, that it was dedicated to Saint John the Baptist. From various documents, such as the “Chrysoboulos Logos” of Alexios Komnenos, published in 1082, it seems to have existed since the 11th century as a glebe land of the Greatest Lavra of Athos.

Regardless of the above, it remains a fact, that one and a half centuries after the restoration of the Monastery, it is dedicated and has its protector and guide Archangel Michael. In fact, in 1858, the monastery was rebuilt with a charter of the Sultan, and was renamed this way, because the monastery was burned on September 6th, the day of the Miracle of Archangel Michael at Chonae, and as a sign of gratitude by many residents of the area, who survived harmless on the day of destruction by certain death. In 3/1182, the monastery of Greatest Lavra, founded a glebe in the form of a regular monastery in the village of Hostiani (today’s Archangelo).

The monastery of Ossiani until the 18th century has a lively presence in the area, to the point where it founded a subsidiary monastery at the foothills of Voras outside the village of Promachi. The monastery is Saint’s Hilarion, Bishop of Moglenoi. The monastery was besieged by the Turks in the 18th century. The Turks decimated the monks and burnt the monastery, while a one of them escaped alone, and gory beetled along to the Great Monastery.

The danger to the monastery was great. At the same time, the inhabitants of the current village of Notia adopted the religion of Muslim. At that time, took also place the tragic incident of the burning of the Monastery, by the neophyte Muslims, who also destroyed the surrounding building facilities. The homesteads, the fields and the forests, were destroyed and the pastures were granted to new owners, and the neighbors and the animals of the Monastery were dispersed.

Desolation lasts more than half a century, but already in 1858, with the permission of the sultan, the burnt monastery is reconstructed, and Valis of the Vitolioi returned the land that had been appropriated. From now on, an economic robustness began and the monastery provided dynamic assistance to the region’s poor. The monks undertook initiatives in the fields of education, moral support and national orientation of Karatzova.

The 19th century is one of the cruel times of Turkish slavery. Nevertheless, the Monastery of Archangel Michael is a robust presence in the northern Almopia. Inside this hive of the monks and ordinary people, the cells were transformed into hidden school rooms. The children were taught the ancestral wisdom and the ancient Greek letters. So, returning to their place, they became priests or teachers.

In the high mountains of Jena and Koziaka, a generation of young patriots was manned. The same period of time, was surrounded by violence and terror, and the propaganda of Bulgarians and Romanians contributed to this. In the Macedonian struggle the Holy Monastery was the center of Hellenism and the stronghold of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

As for its national offer, many brave chieftains were dressed as monks, led by Archangel Michael, to encourage and guide the Macedonian men and the frightened inhabitants of the region. A typical example, is the brave chieftain Captain Matapas who, with the nickname Papa Christos and based in the Monastery of the Archangel, organized rebelliously the region of Aridaia and Goumenissa of Kilkis.

Other brave chieftains used the Monastery as a base and hideout, such as George Kakoulidis, Nicholas Vlachos and Emmanuel Skountris, who won victories against the Bulgarians at Promachoi.

For some decades the monastery was a chapel of the parish of the village of Archangelos. Today the Monastery operates with a cenobitic rite. The rhythm of the temple is a three-aisled basilica and its walls are one meter thick. The katholikon of the temple is painted by frescoes of folk painters from Krousouvo.

Indeed, the most famous frescoes are scenes from the martyrdom of Saint Chrisi and the hagiography of Saint Hilarion, Bishop of Moglenoi, which is unique throughout Greece. Finally, the miraculous icon of Archangel Michael is preserved.

The monastery

The surrounding hills

“Emerald Lake” – Skra Waterfalls

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A Photo/ Video Blog

 

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Memories of Greek historical moments are mixed with the rare beauty of nature and the turquoise waters of an ancient lake.

These are the emotions one feels and the images that one sees as a visitor of Skra, the waterfalls and the famous “emerald lake”.

Skra is only 4 km away from the borders with FYROM and it spreads on the Northeast slopes of Paiko at an altitude of 520m. Its previous name was Lioumnitsa, while the current one is due to the proximal top Skra di Legken that during the First World War was the place of the homonymous battle field (Skra – Ravine). The battle was a decisive one for the course of the Greek State and the First World War.

With its characteristic proud old plane tree in the center of the village, Skra is considered to be a place of celebration in honor of the homonym battle, while every year on 17th of May a memorial ceremony for the officers and the soldiers of that battles belonging to the so called Greek Division of Crete and Archipelago is held at the Monument to those who died in 1918.

Since May 2002, the Museum of the First World War- Skra Battle has been operating in Skra, housed in a specially constructed area. The Museum exhibition presents relics, photos and historic documents from the Macedonian battles of the First World War, as well as from the victorious Skra battle. The well known victorious battle took place on May 17, 1918.

Near this settlement, the visitor faces a small miracle of nature. Through a wonderful path one can reach an area with rich vegetation, where one meets the first waterfall of Skra, at the root of which there is a small cave with stalactites. A little further on the path, the visitor is stunned by the beauty of the small “Blue Lake” or “Emerald Lake”, which owes its aquamarine emerald color of the water to the calcified and fossilized organisms of its bottom. Continuing on the path, the vegetation thickens and the ground is steeper. Here, one can see the second waterfall of Skra that falls with thunder over the rocks creating a stunning natural landscape.

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On my way to physiotherapy

st raphael's chapel3Saints Raphael, Nikolaos and Irene chapel happens to be literally next door to my physiotherapist’s clinic. I always visit it briefly before my treatment. I pray to the Saints’ to illumine my physiotherapist and bless me with a speedy healing.

 

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The chapel is one of the many small shrines scattered here and there, in practically every neighbourhood in Greece, an important part of the Greek culture. If a family has a special devotion to a Saint, and most of them have, then they get a licence and build a chapel for the public, in the loving memory of a grandmother or grandfather. This is a responsibility for all generations to come and they pay particular attention to its  being always clean, well-cared and its candles lit, day after day.

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Passersby pause briefly for a respite from their hectic schedule, get inside, light a candle, add their own petitions and always end by offering thanks and prayers for the founder.

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Memory Eternal to Anastasios Tataridis for this chapel!

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A Photo Diary of Little Things — 6

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OUTSIDE: A stroll at Perivolaki, a traditional village of 1160 inhabitants, a mere 20 miles away from the city, Thessaloniki. Here, at the church of the Assumption of the Theotokos, our choir is chanting in all major feasts.

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INSIDE: Decoration/ preparation of the church of the Assumption for this week’s feasts of the Apodosis and the Ascension 

The Annunciation Miraculous icon of the Theotokos, Evaggelistria-Tinos island

Christ has Ascended!

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Dear Friends in Christ,

The Icon was painted on glass by Georgiana Necula, the flowers were given today by one of the sisters of the Parish and the icon stand drape was a curtain embroidered by my grandmother in the 1930s.

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“Leaving the things of earth upon the earth, and surrendering to the earth things of ashes, come, let us come to our senses and raise our eyes and thoughts on high; let us, O mortals, turn our gaze together with the senses up unto the heavenly gates. Let us consider ourselves present at the Mount of Olives, and gaze intently at the Redeemer Who is riding upon a cloud; for the Lord hath hastened up from there into the heavens. And there the bountiful Giver of gifts distributed gifts unto His Apostles, calling to them as a Father, and strengthening them; He guided them like sons and said unto them: I am not separated from you; I am with you, and no one shall be against you.” (OIKOS FOR THE ASCENSION)

Christ is in our midst

A Joyous Pustinnyk