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May 17, 2013

Pascha Under Turkish Domination (3 of 6)

Monk Agapios and the Dance

Let us allow Daponte to narrate the incident:

Agapios, a monk from Ithaca, an apostolic herald, virtuous, landless, an unmercenary - eternal be his memory. At one time he was found to be in Constantinople during the days of Holy Pascha, in the time when the king would give license to the Romaioi for three days to wear whatever they want and to dance in the Phanar and places nearby, boldly within the huts and in the streets, shouting and singing, with violins and musical instruments and with jugs of wine. This I also attended and visibly saw it as well as Agapios when he came to Skopelos and had the friendship of my father. These dances were occurring one day, with professional guilds, that is to say dancing boys, the guild of furriers, and other guilds, similarly called rousfetia. Agapios was then found to be in the Metochion of the Holy Sepulcher, and the fathers came to the door to see the dancing and frolicking. Agapios also came out, and such a man as Agapios saw such disorder among Christians occurring on such a holy day, that he was confounded, saddened, tearful, mournful, and shaking his head he cried:

"Ah Christians! Ah Romans! Is this how you celebrate the Resurrection of the Lord? Is this how you glorify Christ risen from the dead, our true God?"

Saying such things he was immediately interrupted by one of the fathers standing there, who said:

"Teacher, you see these who today are dancing, jumping, yelling, drinking and being naughty, or as you say, acting unbecomingly, and you are saddened for them and crying? Tomorrow, if there is a royal command for them to deny Christ, they will be the first to willingly run and be martyred for Christ and be slaughtered like lambs."

Having said this, there alone, you could see the face of Agapios immediately change to being joyful, and he immediately went out, shaking off his raso, and joined those who were dancing in order to dance. Immediately the fathers grabbed him, and they held on to him not letting him go. Agapios yelled:

"Let me go! Let me go and dance with the Christ-lovers and martyrs of Christ!"

This privilege, for the slaves to celebrate Pascha with their customs freely for three days, came to an end in 1682 when the act was repealed. Dapontes writes:

"It is now thirty years, that among others, this privilege was removed from the poor Romans."

To be continued...

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos