I still enjoy looking at the architecture of old (and not so old) churches, although over the years, I’ve rejected many of the faith teachings of them. Today, I visited the area of a remarkable Greek Orthodox Church located only about a ten minute or less drive away. I did not pull right up close to the church, but was thankful to have my Nikon 70-300mm zoom lens which afforded me some photo opportunities from a distance.
In a moment, you can read what makes this church remarkable and you may even laugh upon discovering its history. I know I found it a bit humorous!
But first, the above photo was taken of the west side of the church from the nearby Mikrolimano Beach, situated in the Municipality of Keratea, Lavreotiki. This Mikrolimano should not be confused with the larger Mikrolimano located at Piraeus.
We had seen the church in the distance, which sits on a high peninsula facing the Straight of Mikronisos, while taking a wrong route a few weeks ago. But still, it piqued my interest and I wanted to learn more about this magnificent looking church I had seen in the distance.
While visiting Vromopousi Beach (sometimes apparently now called Kalopigado beach) in the afternoon, we thought we’d explore a little further towards Profitas Elias Church, with the intent of looking for photo opportunities as well as other beaches along the coast that we had not yet explored and that might have more sand.
So on we drove, and as we headed down a steep hill, we had this view of the Church building:
History Of Profitas Elias Greek Orthodox Church
I’d still like to return to the church and visit inside, but prior to visiting today, I did some research on this church. It turns out it has an interesting history and originally, this was an illegal church building! In 1982, a small building was erected during the night on August 6, – the Orthodox Holiday of “The Feast Of The Transfiguration Of The Saviour.”
Four years later and during the night of the same Feast Day (August 6, 1996), inhabitants of the area then built a small temple, which would be deemed to be illegal by local authorities. The police arrived while the construction was going on and ordered construction to stop. But by this time, only the roof was remaining to be added.
Fearing local authorities might demolish their work, the local inhabitants selected a group to guard the church, but on the 9th of August, when the guards left the area, the church was demolished for being an illegal structure at 4AM.
Although illegal, it seems the local inhabitants that wanted a church built discovered immediately that their beloved church building had been demolished upon which they all came forward immediately, each bringing what construction materials they could – and rebuilt the church by 10:00AM the same day!
The residents then tried to arrange a meeting with the then Mayor of Keratea but he would not have anything to do with them and their illegal building.
Apparently the local residents than appealed to the Holy Diocese of Mesogaia and Lavreotika which lead to The Holy Diocese certifying the church building as an Orthodox Church.
The Fight For Legalization
Because of the certification from The Holy Diocese, this suspended further demolition plans, but it took a couple of years for the inhabitants of the area to finally see their Church building “legalized.”
Finally, on November 24th, 1988 some legalization of the area took place, and then in April of 1989, permissions were granted to build a larger church structure.
Ten Years To Build The Larger Temple
Construction on the much larger “temple” that we see today began after a permit was issued for it in February, 1990. During all of the preceding time, liturgical services had continued to be carried out at regular intervals, initially every other weekend.
Finally, on June 10th and 11th, 2000, the Inauguration Of The Holy Temple was celebrated and presided over by “His Eminence the former Mesogaia and Lavreotika Mr. Agathonikos.”
From my understanding, since then the Church has opened every Sunday and has celebrated the major Orthodox feasts, but up until 2004, without being a Parish or having a Parish Priest.
A New Parish Is Formed
In December of 2004, the Parish of the Holy Temple of the Holy Prophet Thorikos Kerateas was founded, and has continued ever since.
If you are interested in a Greek version of this along with photos of the very early small building and the later construction, you can visit: http://ieros-naos-profitou-ilia.blogspot.com/p/blog-page.html
A Zoomed In Photo of the North-West Sides
It’s truly a beautiful building with an interesting story! Here’s a close up view showing the north and west sides of the building:
(All images taken on June 22nd, 2022 – © 2022 Ian Hugh Scott)
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