40km litany in Euboea island

The longest litany in Greece. 40km or 8 to 9 hours of walking off track.
Photography / Text: Michael Pappas

This is probably the longest litany in Greece. About 40km which is eight to nine hours of walking. 

I started by car from Athens to reach Pili village in Euboea. This is where I was to meet some locals who would take me to Katounia village, where the litany starts. They use large pick up trucks and SUVs. I find myself climbing on the back of a pick up truck, along with five women. All trucks are equally packed. 

40km litany in Euboea island - Greece. Central Greece. Sarakiniko. © Michael Pappas
40km litany in Euboea island
Greece. Central Greece. Sarakiniko. © Michael Pappas

The road is made of dirt with many rocks here and there and at points is so narrow that the truck barely fits. In one side is a vertical cliff that ends to the sea and to the other side is the mountain. I remember everyone moving towards the mountain side so that they din't see the void. The back of the truck that was by the side of the sea was at times literally floating in thin air. 

The Evening Prayer had already begun when we reached the village and everyone was lining up to pay respect to the Saint's Icon. As soon as the Prayer ends, the litany begins. People take the Icon in their hands and priests in front they start the journey. 

At the back women follow, carrying bags with food, water, fruits and dried nuts for the journey. They wear comfy clothes and shoes. Some cars come along in case of an emergency, but also to help some people who are getting to tired to follow along. They seem to be quite handy when the road goes uphill. Some children even have their swimming suits so that they can have a swim at the sea. 

40km litany in Euboea island - Greece. Central Greece. Sarakiniko. © Michael Pappas
40km litany in Euboea island
Greece. Central Greece. Sarakiniko. © Michael Pappas
40km litany in Euboea island - Greece. Central Greece. Sarakiniko. © Michael Pappas
40km litany in Euboea island
Greece. Central Greece. Sarakiniko. © Michael Pappas

At some point, a few kilometres before the litany ends by reaching to the Pili village, I realised that I was using the wrong shoes. They had caused wounds to my feet and I could barely walk. I was carrying along my photographic equipment which was adding up to the weight and strain to my body. 

40km litany in Euboea island - Greece. Central Greece. Sarakiniko. © Michael Pappas
40km litany in Euboea island
Greece. Central Greece. Sarakiniko. © Michael Pappas
40km litany in Euboea island - Greece. Central Greece. Sarakiniko. © Michael Pappas
40km litany in Euboea island
Greece. Central Greece. Sarakiniko. © Michael Pappas

I thought I should be getting on a car to take me to the village, but there was Mr. Panayotis, 78, who was the only one who didn't get in a car so far to save his strength. I have asked him how was he feeling and whether he was tired or not. He said he was and that his feet were sore, but he was determined to do the whole thing on foot to win a bet he had put with himself. I was too shy after that to get in a car and we continued the route together, one next to each other, with no more talking.

40km litany in Euboea island - Greece. Central Greece. Sarakiniko. © Michael Pappas
40km litany in Euboea island
Greece. Central Greece. Sarakiniko. © Michael Pappas

Along the route, they make a few stops to several chapels in order for everyone to take a rest, where there is a fountain to drink water and the view is fantastic. Aegean sea spreads in front of your eyes and you can see Skopelos island further away. 

40km litany in Euboea island - Greece. Central Greece. Sarakiniko. © Michael Pappas
40km litany in Euboea island
Greece. Central Greece. Sarakiniko. © Michael Pappas

We reach Pili village during nightfall, where a few people stand at their front doors to welcome the icon.

40km litany in Euboea island - Greece. Central Greece. Sarakiniko. © Michael Pappas
40km litany in Euboea island
Greece. Central Greece. Sarakiniko. © Michael Pappas

40km litany in Euboea island - Greece. Central Greece. Sarakiniko. © Michael Pappas
40km litany in Euboea island
Greece. Central Greece. Sarakiniko. © Michael Pappas
40km litany in Euboea island - Greece. Central Greece. Sarakiniko. © Michael Pappas
40km litany in Euboea island
Greece. Central Greece. Sarakiniko. © Michael Pappas
#euboea #walking #hiking #litany #icon #church #island #religion

Location

40km litany in Euboea island

Unnamed Road, Sarakiniko 340 04, Ελλάδα
Sarakiniko, Central Greece, Greece