Litany in Euboea island

Pilgrimage to an annual litany of a Holy Icon in Euboea island
Photography / Text: Michael Pappas

A litany of an Icon had brought me to Limni, a seaside village in Northern Euboea island. I usually arrive a day before any event I am going to attend, but here is mandatory, since the evening prayer starts in the village temple in the afternoon, at around 17:00.

Here I am, standing by the temple's side, because this is the entrance to the snactuary, where children go to dress up as acolytes. One by one, after getting ready they go out to the church yard, holding a cross, a banner or a flag that they will be carrying along the litany.

At that time, the sun is about to set, so light is quite playful with the colourful robes of the children. I like to stick around until the end of the prayer because these kids are a very interesting subject to photograph.

Litany starts right after the prayer has ended. They take the Icon out of the church and start their way to the destination chapel. The litany follows the narrow village alleys and a large crowd follows along. As a photographer I am standing at the front because many old ladies are waiting in their front porches holding lit incenses that smoke and my intention is to combine that with the litany.

There are also some that throw flower petals from their balconies while the Icon passes through their homes. Just because I am interested in staying at the front I have to keep up, because if the Icon passes through me it is too difficult to get myself back to the front. It happened to me once and I travelled around in circles as many of the village roads lead to dead ends.

They make a stop just before the border of the village, at a small square. This is where they perform an auction for the Icon. The idea is that villagers will offer some income to the village community. This is very interesting to witness and I even stop taking photographs in order to enjoy. 

The priest tries to raise the price while the villagers shout out the amount they offer for the Icon. Every year is the same man who offers the most. One year it was different. He and another lady where the last ones standing and kept on raising the amount.

People resented because it was almost night and there was more walking after the auction. Amount  reached 5000 Euros and finally the gentleman allowed the lady to win. She wouldn't quit because she made a promise to the Saint to get the Icon as an honour to her recently diseased offspring and mother.

I got to know by a villager that part of this amount is spent for the food and drinks that they offer to the people attending. Next time I might try shooting some video during this auction.

After that, the road uphill starts, in order to get out of the village. In my opinion it is a very interesting here because of the location but also the people who hold the Icon. The Icon keeps on changing hands, because everyone wants to get hold of it even for a little while. You can even see quarrels among them about how many times and for how long one holds it.

When we are near the chapel, I get myself back to the front, because people are waiting on their knees for the Icon to travel above their heads. After the Icon is inside the chapel, there is a Mass taking place. Many will stick around till the morning, spending the night together with the Icon. 

At dawn, around 5-6 a.m. in a specially allocated space at the other side of the chapel, they start to cook meat in large pots so that the food for the people is ready by the end of the morning Mass. People have picked their spots early, usually under the shadow of a plane tree and use tables and rugs they have brought from home.

After Mass and lunch have ended, the reverse course starts towards the village. Sometimes this may change course and go along the seaside, having as a background the gulf of Euboea. 

What stayed in my mind during this litany is the "kid without a face". I have made two different images of this same kid during two different years and in both he is hiding his face. In the first one he hides behind his cross and in the second he is using his hand. In the third year, I managed to make several images without him hiding, but none of them was good enough to keep. 

#holidays #vacation #limni #euboea #culture #island #people #travel


Litany in Euboea island

Limni, Evias
Limni, Central Greece, Greece