Yesterday the village priest, Pater Athanasios (Papathanasis), very kindly showed a small group of us the interior of the renovated Byzantine-style church of Agion Apostolon (also called Dodeka Apostoloi - The 12 Apostles) situated in Tholos at the top of the village. This church was officially re-opened with a grand celebration on July 1st, as reported on the forum earlier.
For those of us who have watched this beautiful church deteriorate over the years, it is wonderful to see it restored to its former state, a project overseen by church archaeologists. Many local people as well as Sfakians abroad donated money for the renovation and for church furnishings. They now have permission to rebuild the bell tower but are still trying to raise enough money to do this.
The main screen with icons has been lovingly restored, but some despicable person stole many of the icons from the top of the screen while the church was open.
Now the door is kept securely locked, but anyone who wants to view the interior can contact Papathanasis, who is more than willing to show people around. (For those who are not familiar with visiting Greek Orthodox churches, it is customary to make a donation of at least €2 and light a candle while in the church, and dress in a respectful manner.)
There are many interesting features inside the church in addition to the icons – a stone at the foot of the curtain in the screen which has a Turkish text written in Arabic script, the origin and content of which is not known yet. There are some architectural carved stone pieces at the bottom of arches that have been taken from older buildings to symbolise the continuity of the religion. Behind the screen is an old stone altar.
For those who remember the old black and white patterned floor tiles, those have now been replaced by light stone blocks, which was the original type of flooring. The cupola now has small window arches exposed, and the roof has been sealed with a waterproof substance and painted terracotta red.
The church will not be used for normal Sunday services, but for special masses (baptisms, funerals, the church’s celebration day).
We were accompanied on our tour of the church by Georgos Dalidakis, who has written a book (in Greek) called Searching for the 100 Churches of Chora Sfakion. The link to the online version is:
One of the options at the bottom is for a low-resolution download (χαμηλή ανάλυση 4ΜΒ). The link to a brief English summary of the contents can be found at:
http://www.dalidakis.com/articles/searc ... -the-book/
Weather report: it has been raining off and on in the mountain villages the past two days. On the coast it has been dry, except for a brief light shower, and has been warm and partly cloudy, with a little breeze.