Agios Dimitrios Obelisk

Obelisk on Agios Dimritrios grounds

Obelisk on Agios Dimitrios grounds

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Agios Dimitrios Courtyard Chapel and Fountain

Practically every church we visited on Limnos has a water well somewhere on the property, usually found in the church courtyard or along side of the building is a simple stone structure with a spigot. Church fountains most likely originated in the days when water was not running in every household but was collected at a community well. The church water supply drew residents together and may have been the only source of pure water in the village at one time.

Prayer chapel and fountain building on Agios Dimitrios grounds

Agios Dimitrios courtyard chapel and water fountain building

 

Agios Dimitrios ~ Inside the Chapel

Prayer Chapel outside of Agios Dimitrios Church

Prayer Chapel outside of Agios Dimitrios Church

#3 Agios Sozon Church ~ Outskirts of Myrina on the road to Agios Dimitrios

Agios Sozon Church located on the outskirts of Myrina along the road to Agios Dimitrios

Agios Sozon Church located on the outskirts of Myrina along the road to Agios Dimitrios

The Patron Saint of Limnos is Saint Sozon.
Greek Orthodox tradition records that Sozon was a shepherd, born in Lyconia. As a Christian he was killed by the Romans for his faith at the nearby city of Pompeiopolis in 304.

Through Roman times the island of Limnos (or Lemnos) had as its protector Saint Alexander, whose relics rested there up until 1308. This is mentioned in a codex at the Patriarchate of Alexandria. In 1308 pirates stole these holy relics and sold them to Venetians. Since then the mention of Saint Alexander as the patron of Limnos gradually weakened.
This was followed by many tragic events on the island: pirate raids, battles between imperial families for its control, the intrusion of the Franks, the Venetian conquest, the fall of Constantinople, and finally the Ottoman occupation of the island in 1479. Because of these events and changes, old habits gradually became forgotten.
In the mid-eighteenth century the island began to recover from its poverty. Limnian sailors and merchants would come into contact with Europeans, Russians and Egyptians. With their newly acquired wealth they began to rebuild many of their old humble and ruined churches in the villages. Limnian captains would sail to Constantinople, Smyrna, Alexandria, the ports of the Aegean islands and the Black Sea. On their way to the Dardanelles they would look upon their island from afar. There they would see a small chapel from afar on the south coast of Limnos that would give them strength and courage to continue their battle with the sea. This was the Church of Saint Sozon, located near the village Fisini (Physsini).
The sailors would look upon Saint Sozon as their savior, because at one time he saved certain castaways when he turned his cloak into a boat. When they would light their candles in the church, they would cross themselves and say a prayer that they would return unharmed to their island. When they were in danger or threatened by a storm, they would pray “Saint Sozon, save us!” Then they would present their offerings: one person an icon, another a liturgy, whatever one was able to do.
At the same time, the residents of Limnos began to pray to Saint Sozon, even making vows to him that their loved ones would return to the island safe. In this way, for Limnian seamen and their families, Saint Sozon became a patron saint, and every year on September 7th they would go to the chapel of the Saint and honor his memory. Towards the end of the nineteenth century Saint Sozon was seen by all on Limnos to be their patron saint.
In a list of official holidays celebrated on the island of Limnos in 1887 there is no mention of Saint Sozon. The earliest written testimony to the celebration of Saint Sozon as patron of the island is in 1906. In this year the Limnos Brotherhood of Alexandria decided on September 7th to host a feast of the patron saint of Limnos Sozon with a Great Vespers on the evening prior to the feast and a Divine Liturgy with an artoklasia on the day of the feast. Therefore, the exact date of the establishment of Saint Sozon as the patron of Limnos is to be found between 1887 and 1906.

Lemnos’ Church of Saint Sozon 
The Chapel of Saint Sozon stands in the small village of Skandali, on the south-eastern tip of Limnos from medieval times. In old maps this area was known as Cogito, which is a distortion of the name “ston Agiosoznta” (στον Αγιοσώζ’ντα). The name Cogito was first reported by the Italian scholar Porcacchi in 1572. Therefore, the Chapel of Saint Sozon existed at least since the early sixteenth century. Previously in this position there was also a small fortress, which in 1572 was already in ruins. In today’s church the oldest evidence comes from some icons of the nineteenth century.
Recently, the cells of the church were restored by the brothers Stenou. Today the church is deserted but on its feast day, the 7th of September, it is the place where a big three-day festival takes place in honor of Saint Sozon.
The evening before residents from every town and village would gather around the church, and they would receive hospitality from the residents of the nearby village of Fisini. Eventually cells were built around the church to house all the pilgrims who came for the feast. After Great Vespers all would celebrate the feast with violins and lyres. Following the Divine Liturgy in the morning a procession with the holy icon took place, then the festivities would continue till the next morning. The next day the families with their animals would depart for their villages. This feast continues till today.

Claven, Jim. “Lemnos’ Patron Saint – Saint Sozon.” Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee Inc. http://www.johnsanidopoulos.com/2010/09/saint-sozon-martyr-of-cilicia-and.html, 4 Mar. 2014. Web. 26 June 2014. <http://lemnosgallipolicc.blogspot.com/2014/03/lemnos-patron-saint-saint-sozon.html

 

Agios Sozon ~ Entrance

Dated plaque affixed to front entrance of Agios Sozon

Dated plaque 1812 or 1872 (?) affixed to front entrance of Agios Sozon

Agios Sozon ~ Interior

Agios Sozon Interior

Agios Sozon Interior

Icon of Agios Sozon from Ag. Sozon Church

Icon of Agios Sozon from Ag. Sozon Church

Agios Sozon ~ Byzantine Icons found inside the Church

Saint John the Baptist(?) icon from Agios Sozon

Saint John the Baptist(?) icon from Agios Sozon

This little Church is notable for the antique icons displayed inside. I presume these are egg-tempera painted icons as evidenced by the darkening colors. The Icon of Zoodochos Pege (The Life Giving Font) is described as: The icon representing the Virgin of the Spring shows the Virgin blessing and embracing the Child. She is surrounded by two angels, and is sitting on the more elevated of two basins, presumably representing the “living water” which is Christ. The living water from the more elevated basin flows into a larger marble basin below, which is in the shape of a cross.

“Life-Giving Spring.” OrthodoxWiki. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 June 2014. <http://orthodoxwiki.org/Zoodochos_Pege

Panagia (Virgin Mary) painted icon from Agios Sozon Church

Zoodochos Pege (The Life Giving Font) painted icon from Agios Sozon Church

Antique icon from Agios Sozon (subject unknown)

Antique icon from Agios Sozon
Agia Paraskevi