St. Gerasimos day, Kefalonia island

On August 16 every year at the Saint Gerasimos church of Kefalonia island, the relic of the Saint is taken out of the church in a litany and pilgrims lie down on the street to let the relic pass above them, so that they get blessed.
Photography / Text: Michael Pappas

I had seen images by other photographers from Saint Gerasimos and I wanted to see it for myself. I combined the visit with the custom of the Mary of the snakes that was taking place a couple of days earlier in Kefalonia island, not very far from here. Many of the pilgrims I saw there had also visited here. 

On August 15, after completing my visit to one custom, I get in the car to go to Saint Gerasimos. I stopped to fill the car with gas and I asked someone the way to get there. He showed me a way that I would save 10km, but this way was in most parts a dirt road. It was night so I couldn't see some pilgrims getting to the monastery on foot. I only heard them yelling at me to slow down because I covered them in dust.

I arrived at the monastery and parked the car at a spot where it would be convenient to sleep but not to secluded. I took my camera and went outside to look around the area. There is a lot of people both inside and outside the church waiting in long queues to worship. There was nothing much that got my interest but anyway what I came to see was taking place the following day. 

I slept inside the car. When I woke up I wanted to wash my hair and brush my teeth but there was no convenient water source nearby. There is a lot of people at the local springs, therefore I filled up 3 plastic bottles that I always carry along and I moved to a nearby field. 

I waited for the Morning Mass to come to its end so that the event that interested me would start. In the meantime I had learned the location of the event so I took my place.

People start to lie down on the street in a straight line. The idea is that the relic of the Saint will be taken above the pilgrims so they get blessed. There was a big fuss about the way the pilgrims were laying down, so that is was easy for the people carrying the relic to go through. The people organising the litany tried to move one of the pilgrims. After he stood up, he couldn't find a new spot to lie down, so he started cursing the priest who took him and by asking for an earthquake to take down the church!! 

The length of the litany is around 100m and I had to move fast. A police officer didn't like me for some reason so he wouldn't let me go near and take pictures. The litany ends to an opening under the shadow off a large tree where the preying takes place.

The litany returns to the church but this time they won't let people lie down. 

After the end of the litany I took my car to catch the Ferry to Killini. 

#blessing #church #saint #litany #gerasimos #relic #religion


St. Gerasimos day, Kefalonia island

Epar.Od. Mousaton - Valsamaton Omala
Cephalonia, Ionian Islands, Greece