5,000 People Celebrate St. Panteleimon’s Feast on a Small Greek Island
Kalimera and Chrona polla on this Feast Day of the Great Martyr and Healer Panteleimon.Our church of Saint Panteleimon is on the island of Spinalonga, in the bay across from Elounda. A boat ride takes us to Spinalonga. Many boats arrive at the island from Elounda, Plaka and Agios Nikolaos.
Last evening an estimated 5,000 people went to the island to partake in the evening service. Large and small boats continue to ferry people across for the length of the church service. You can see from my photographs that even at the end of the service people are still arriving and making their way through the church to venerate the icons and to light their candles. You can also see some of the many boats waiting to take people back.
Spinalonga has a long and sad history. Having been occupied by Venetians, Turks and later on being a leper colony until as recently as 1957 when a cure was found. Each year on the Feast day of Saint Panteleimon the lepers are remembered in a memorial service.
I start my photos with the view of Spinalonga from Elounda. Elounda is in the distance from the boat, then the evening service followed by photos during the Holy Liturgy itself. The two large icons are decorated with fresh flowers.
I should also say the bishop is His Eminence Nektarios, Metropolis of Hersonissos and Petras. As you can see from the numbers attending, it is a very special celebration day and wonderful to be a part of.
A note about attendance: As I said, 5,000 people came from all over. Not all the people were there all of the time. I don’t know if it’s the same in all Orthodox churches but here in Crete it’s perfectly acceptable to enter and leave a church at any time during the services. Most people work in the tourist industry, so they work 7 days a week in the summer but will go to church on their way to work, light a candle and leave.