Signs of folk art or of faith?

The first which catches the attention is its blue colour. Then its light. After that comes all the rest … the things that we can’t see and we need time to identify and decipher them.

The roadside shrines of Greece

Kefalonia_ 01

The fact …

One of these things are the tiny chapels which are mainly found alongside the provincial streets. Sometimes made of metal, rusty, covered with foliage and some other times tiny ornaments in the middle of nowhere. All of them with a tiny door, a little icon of a Saint and a lit candle.
Those who visit the country for the first time encounter them for first time. Those who come again and again know the explanation; which is not at all unconnected with the religious character of the country, the fact that each city and region has its own protector Saint and that people celebrate more often their name day than their birthday.

… & the explanation!

So these chapels take their place next to the churches and they are a personal offer of a man or a family. A symbol of loyalty, often associated with the family’s desire to keep the memory of a person alive by lighting a candle in the place where a fatal accident (which has cost his or her life) occurred. Other times, it is the opposite: then these tiny churches are signs of faith and thanksgiving for the salvation of a man or woman who has been fatally threatened at that place.

And then there are all the churches that have nothing to do with the churches we know: in the yard of a house, on an estate, most of the times dedicated to the Saint which the family regards as its patron and assistant.

Perhaps all this seems strange to many. But we will all agree that each country hides its own small secrets and features. However, if you want to get to know a country and not just be a viewer, our advice is to start from what is not obvious like and not from what is obvious.

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                                     © Lato,
Het Griekse Taal– & CultuurCentrum van Amsterdam