Monday, August 27, 2012

Church of St. Fanourios, Rhodes

The small church of St.Fanourios, with the fascinating history, is to be found along the quaint little Street of Aghios Fanourios, located in the Old City of Rhodes. The church was restored during the 13th century on the site where the miraculous icon of St. Fanourios was found by pagan Arabs, who pillaged the island in 64 AD.

But it’s the tale behind the discovery of the icon of St. Fanourios which is more intriguing than the old building itself. It’s a story that is as mysterious as his background, of which hardly anything is known. When the Syrians plundered the island, one of the areas they excavated in the hopes of finding treasure was the site where St. Fanourios Church is located today. Among the many things they found, were dozens of icons of varying sizes and depicting different saints. Almost all the icons were in various stages of decay, except for one – that of St. Fanourios.

Surrounding the image of a young Fanourios, on the perimeter of the icon, were 12 small scenes depicting the unfortunate man enduring the most horrendous torture known to man. This included being stripped naked and flogged until he bled; being stretched on the rack; holding hot coals; being crushed by a huge boulder and thrown to wild animals. The Greek Hierarch at the time, after scrutinising the icon with great care, realised that this was indeed a martyr, who was such a great believer that he was prepared to die for his faith. He immediately considered it of primary importance that the little chapel be restored and that it is dedicated to St. Fanourios, and he appealed to the Turkish rulers to allow him to activate the project. But the Ottomans would not hear of it, so the determined hierarch travelled to Constantinople to seek permission, which he was granted and thus the little church with the captivating history was re-established, and is now visited by thousands of pilgrims and visitors throughout the year.

But to this day, his real name is still unknown, as are the details surrounding his background. His given name, Fanourios, means to reveal in Greek, a direct reference to the fact that his icon was discovered in the ruins. He became the patron saint of retrieving lost items or people or even hidden information. This means that whoever has lost something or someone can pray to St. Fanourios for its recovery and if found, is obligated to bake a pie on his name day, on 27 August, the day his icon was found. Following a blessing by the priest, the pie is then cut and offered to pilgrims.

The Turkish invaders, however, converted the little church into a stable for their animals and later into a mosque. When the Turks were defeated and thrown out of the island by the new conquerors, the Italians, the chapel was reclaimed by the Greek Orthodox Church, and when the top layer of plaster was scraped off the walls, a stunning presentation of aged but still clearly visible frescoes was revealed.


  1. Thank for the photos and interesting information but just wanted to say saint fanourios name is on his icon in regards to his name not being known thank you once again for this site may the saint bless us all

  2. Thank you for the comment. I do believe that Fanourios is not actually his name, as i write above. it merely means he who has been revealed. Nevertheless, we all know him as St. Fanourios..!

  3. A very useful informations about St. Fanourios and his church from Rhodes. I am very grateful for the photos, are a “treasure” because I couldn’t go in to a pilgrimage here, (until now), but I hope the saint Fanourios make a miracle for me and I will be in his church make my own photos, next year :)…until then…thank you for this “gift”. God bless you!