Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The Church of St. Mavra, Zakynthos

The Church of St Mavra and St Timothy in the small town of Maherado, Zante (Zakynthos) is one of the most beautiful churches of the island. It is also one of the most famous pilgrimage places on the Ionian Island. Despite the unfortunate fire, which destroyed the Church in 2005, where numerous treasures were lost, the inhabitants of the village were determined to restore the Church’s old glory and beauty. 

St Mavra and St Timothy lived in the small town of Panapea in Thebes (Egypt) during the early Christian times where they experienced the persecution of Christians by Emperor Diocletian, where they were martyred for their faith in Jesus Christ. According to local folklore, the Church was built on the spot where a shepherd from Lagopodo had found the miracle-working icon of St Mavra in a ravine, a place where the icon was probably hidden since the Iconoclasm epoch (8th-9th century AD). Originaly, a small chapel was built on that spot by the inhabitants of Maherado, whilst later, a bigger church building was built, which unfortunately was destroyed by an earthquake. During the great earthquake of 1953, which levelled the whole island of Zakynthos, St Mavra Church was again damaged. However, the local faithful and the state worked together, building therefore the new Church of St. Mavra in Maherado. 

Next to the building stands a magnificent 37 metre high bell tower, built in 1802 by Nikolaos Kyvetos, a Zakynthian architect and engineer who studied in Italy. The bells were manufactured in Venice and are widely known for their sweet and beautiful sound.
The Church of St Mavra is one of the most significant historical monuments on the Ionian Island, despite its unfortunate fire destruction (2005) which destroyed the interior of the Church. The icons, before the destruction, were of immense artistic and religious value. Fortunately, the restoration process has begun. Even today, it is undergoing this process, which will take years.  

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