Feast of St. John the Russian

Pilgrimage and litany of St. John the Russian
Photography / Text: Michael Pappas

A short two-hour drive from Athens will get you in a full-of-green landscape, giving you too many opportunities to make nice images. This is the festival and litany of the Russian Saint John. 

There are people even hanging from their balconies, throwing significant quantities of flowers

The litany is particularly interesting, for the march goes around the streets of the village and there are people even hanging from their balconies, throwing significant quantities of flowers. The priests are carrying the Saint's remains on their shoulders. If you find yourself a nice spot that is high up, you can even have a peak at the Saint's body which is in a good shape, considering. Russian and Ukrainian people also add a flavour to the whole event.

Feast of St. John the Russian - Greece. Central Greece. Mantoudi-Limni-Agia Anna. © Michael Pappas
Feast of St. John the Russian
Greece. Central Greece. Mantoudi-Limni-Agia Anna. © Michael Pappas
Feast of St. John the Russian - Greece. Central Greece. Mantoudi-Limni-Agia Anna. © Michael Pappas
Feast of St. John the Russian
Greece. Central Greece. Mantoudi-Limni-Agia Anna. © Michael Pappas

Feast of St. John the Russian - Greece. Central Greece. Mantoudi-Limni-Agia Anna. © Michael Pappas
Feast of St. John the Russian
Greece. Central Greece. Mantoudi-Limni-Agia Anna. © Michael Pappas

Some people even start from Chalkis, which is a 60km distance, on foot. They arrive at the night before exhausted and you can even see wounds on some's feet. A small percentage of those people fall on their knees as soon as they arrive inside the village to continue their trip on their four limbs before they reach the temple.

Some people even start from Chalkis, which is a 60km distance, on foot. 

Feast of St. John the Russian - Greece. Central Greece. Mantoudi-Limni-Agia Anna. © Michael Pappas
Feast of St. John the Russian
Greece. Central Greece. Mantoudi-Limni-Agia Anna. © Michael Pappas

During the whole trip from Chalkis to Prokopi village, you can see people walking by the side of the road. They are fulfilling a promise they made to Saint John, so they walk for hours, even during nightfall, holding flashlights to see the way but also be seen by drivers. If you are driving you need to be somewhat cautious, as there are continuous turns and at some bits there is poor visibility. Overtaking should be avoided, just be patient, this bit takes only about half an hour to go through.

Feast of St. John the Russian - Greece. Central Greece. Mantoudi-Limni-Agia Anna. © Michael Pappas
Feast of St. John the Russian
Greece. Central Greece. Mantoudi-Limni-Agia Anna. © Michael Pappas

Approximately 100 meters away from the village lies a beautiful plane tree forest, which runs along a river. Vast numbers of Romani people camp days before around this forest, so it really does shout to make pictures. The interest reaches its peak during nightfall when they start playing music and roast meat. It is really easy to find and get to. Romani people go to and fro the temple during the whole day.

The interest reaches its peak during nightfall when they start playing music and roast meat.

Feast of St. John the Russian - Greece. Central Greece. Mantoudi-Limni-Agia Anna. © Michael Pappas
Feast of St. John the Russian
Greece. Central Greece. Mantoudi-Limni-Agia Anna. © Michael Pappas
Feast of St. John the Russian - Greece. Central Greece. Mantoudi-Limni-Agia Anna. © Michael Pappas
Feast of St. John the Russian
Greece. Central Greece. Mantoudi-Limni-Agia Anna. © Michael Pappas

It is advisable to get to know one of them and ask him to take you with around the camp. Going by yourself, maybe, just maybe, is not such a good idea. I've been there by myself and never occurred something mentionable to me. However, one time I went along with another Roma, my work was much easier.

Feast of St. John the Russian - Greece. Central Greece. Mantoudi-Limni-Agia Anna. © Michael Pappas
Feast of St. John the Russian
Greece. Central Greece. Mantoudi-Limni-Agia Anna. © Michael Pappas

Dozens of them have come to baptise their children during mass christenings that take place in a nearby chapel that belongs to the main temple. There is not too much space so it gets rather crowded. It is also very interesting that parents try to "fish" a good and wealthy godparent.

Dozens of Roma people have come to baptise their children during mass christenings 

Feast of St. John the Russian - Greece. Central Greece. Mantoudi-Limni-Agia Anna. © Michael PappasAdult content
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Feast of St. John the Russian
Greece. Central Greece. Mantoudi-Limni-Agia Anna. © Michael Pappas

Mount Kondyli overseas the village, so after nightfall it gets a little bit chilly. There are many places around to have coffee, drink and dinner playing live music. A bazaar also takes place along the streets if you are up to bric-a-brac browsing. There are also rooms to let, but they won't be available on a short notice. People book months in advance. If you haven't got a space for yourself, maybe you should be looking around the nearby villages instead. There is also a medical centre at a nearby village and provision for large parking spaces on several fields around the village. The place is well protected by an increased number of police, who are there just in case.

A bazaar also takes place along the streets if you are up to bric-a-brac browsing. 

Feast of St. John the Russian - Greece. Central Greece. Mantoudi-Limni-Agia Anna. © Michael Pappas
Feast of St. John the Russian
Greece. Central Greece. Mantoudi-Limni-Agia Anna. © Michael Pappas

Make sure you don't leave as soon as the litany ends, because everyone has this idea. The traffic is going to be nuts, both around the parking lots and during the way to Chalkis, because of the many turns. If you are up to photography you may want to try making images of the bazaar packing, or even have nice hot coffee and relax for a few hours.

Feast of St. John the Russian - Greece. Central Greece. Mantoudi-Limni-Agia Anna. © Michael Pappas
Feast of St. John the Russian
Greece. Central Greece. Mantoudi-Limni-Agia Anna. © Michael Pappas
#holidays #flowers #bazaar #culture #feast #gipsy #russian #roma #travel #people #island #vacation

Location

Feast of St. John the Russian

EO77 Kireas
Mantoudi-Limni-Agia Anna, Central Greece, Greece