01 August 2008

The Mosque of Ag. Giorgios

In Greece there are many chapels of Ag. Giorgios. Perhaps very few of them are surrounded by trees festooned with kerchiefs and an occasional large pink undergarment. This particular chapel, however, is exceptional, though not for the underwear, nor for its newness, nor for its conventional icons, even though there are a remarkable number of icons of Ag. Giorgios.

It is remarkable because it is an apsed chapel that faces south- south-east rather than east.

The chapel has an extension on the left that nearly doubles the floor space--which is still very limited. Five years ago the whole floor, chapel and extension, was covered with a triple layer of carpets and prayer rugs, with one in front of the altar bearing the image of the great mosque in Mecca, and all of these rugs bearing witnesses to family histories and financial commitment.

The neighbors felt it was all very simple: local Orthodox use the chapel mostly on the feastday of Ag. Giorgios, local Bektashi Muslims use the chapel on Fridays. The congregations shared a mutual devotion to Ag. Giorgios, the expenses of maintaining the building, the same small local agriculture-small shop life. In addition, the Christians appreciated the carpets at winter services

Two years ago, mean-spirited men with a definitive knowledge of God's will came in one weekday, ripped out the carpets, and burned them. Everyone knows who they are--they are not from the village and one of them is an Army officer-- but no one wants to involve the law and there has been no overt reaction. This community has managed its own affairs for six hundred years and would like to keep doing so.

This is a short entry, but it is a small chapel.

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