Monday 25 November 2013

Athens: Ag. Dynami (Αγια Δύναμη)

Mitropoleos St, Syntagma, open daily

Syntagma Square with its fast food emporiums and cafes would seem to have obliterated old Athens, but from its south west corner walk two blocks down Mitropoleos St and you will find a tiny piece of 16th century Athens - Agia Dynami, The Church of the Holy Power - hunkered down on the pavement under an umbrella of concrete provided by the adjacent office building and with only a few potted plants to protect it from the pedestrian flow.

The Holy Power is Mary’s in her role as protector of women during pregnancy and childbirth. Women would flock here during those dangerous months and asked for her intercession. A surprising number of worshippers still enter this single celled barrel-vaulted church each day to light a candle or to pray.  Well, surprising perhaps only to foreigners who are unaware of how much a part of everyday life a visit to church still is in Greece. Sometimes because of the crowds, the cabinet with different sized candles and the stand with sand to receive them once lit are placed outside to make purchasing a candle and lighting it even easier.

Agia Dynami was and is a dependency of the Pendeli Monastery on Mount Hymettos although its original courtyard and outbuildings are long gone. The church is modest in the extreme but it too had its moment of glory in Greece’s complex history…
 During Athens’  reign of terror under the infamous Turkish Voivode Hadji Ali Haseki (1775-95) the Pendeli Monastery was given the concession to make ammunition for the Turkish garrison stationed on the nearby acropolis, a strange occupation for monks, but these were strange times. Agia Dynami became an arms workshop and in 1821 the factory churned out ammunition for the Turks by day and the Greek insurgents by night. Smuggled out in the wash basket of a local old woman, they were taken to the rebels who made good use of them.
The floor inside sports a double eagle, a symbol of the Orthodox Church and found inlaid on many church floors, even in tiny churches like this one.

No comments:

Post a Comment