June 19, 2011

The Cave Church of All Saints In Nafplio

In the district of Pronoia in Nafplio (Nauplio) there is a natural cave which has been converted into the small Church of All Saints. This was the first cemetery church of Nafplion until 1856. It dates from the second Venetian rule, though an exact date is unknown. Later, during the Turkish rule, it was the only church that was allowed to operate in the area, maybe because there was also a Muslim cemetery nearby. Around it the old cemetery of Nafplio was located, where fighters of the Revolution were buried, like Staikos Staikopoulos, Nikitaras, Paleon Patron Germanos. Though no longer an occupied cemetery, tombstones can still be seen on the floor of the church.

Near the Cave Church of All Saints is the sculpture known as the Lion of the Bavarians. It is an amazing sculpture of the 19th century (1840-1). It was made by the German sculptor Siegel, after the order of King Ludwig of Bavaria, the father of King Otto, the first king of Greece. The lion is lying down and asleep, depicted with an obvious sadness. It is devoted to the Bavarian soldiers from the escort of King Otto who died from the typhus epidemic in Nafplio in 1833-34. The Bavarians were originally buried in the area, but the bones were later transported to the crypt of the Catholic Church of Nafplio.

The Church of All Saints operated as a parish church until 1890, at which time it became a chapel of Holy Trinity Church in Nafplio.

A large crowd gathers in the evening before the feast of All Saints every year to celebrate, and the miraculous icon of All Saints is carried throughout Pronoia.