July 17, 2010

The Church of Saint Marina in Thiseio

Saint Marina of Thiseio (Feast Day - July 17)

The inpressive Church of Saint Marina in Thiseio (or Thissio) is situated on the Hill of the Nymphs below the Observatory of Athens. The new church's foundations were laid in 1922 based on the architectural drawings of Achilleas Georgiadis, on the site of an older 19th century church.

In its present form, the church has a cruciform plan with a dome in the middle and four smaller domes on the corners. The interior was decorated by mural paintings during the 1930's, mostly by the painter Graikos and Kandris. This was also when the wooden screen was crafted, designed by the architect Georgios Nomikos. The mural paintings form a rare example of religious painting in Greece, influenced by the Jugendstil of Central Europe.

South-east of the church is a small Byzantine church carved into rock, next to the one the new church was built on. This small church was also dedicated to Saint Marina. It must have been built between the 11th and 12th century. Wall paintings dating back to the 17th and 19th century were found inside. Most of them were removed and placed on the northern part of the new church. The smaller church's side walls still have several 17th century mural paintings.

The location of the church had been associated with the religious practices related to childbirth and child health. Expectant mothers and those with sick babies would come here to pray for a safe labor and the cure of their children. Pregnant women actually used to crawl over a steep cliff in order to make their prayers for a safe labor come to fulfillment. The church holds a major festival on the feast of Saint Marina on July 17th.


On 4 December 1966 the recently discovered holy skull of Saint Marina which was discovered in the Monastery of Saint George at Ilia of Edipsos in Halkida, was brought for the first time to the Church of Saint Marina in Thissio. To commemorate this event, a booklet on the life of Saint Marina was written which also contains pictures. It can be viewed here after downloading the pdf file towards the bottom.

Read also the following study: Pagan Cult to Christian Ritual: The Case of Agia Marina Theseiou