July 7, 2017

The 9th century Aniconic Church of Saint Kyriaki on the Island of Naxos

There are eight churches on the island of Naxos dedicated to Saint Kyriaki. The Church of Saint Kyriaki, located in the mountainous mainland of Naxos, in the area of ​​Apeiranthos, is a rare case of a Byzantine temple that has been preserved with aniconic decoration. According to archaeologists, the church was built during the period of Iconoclasm. The decoration includes crosses, geometric and plant themes, as well as unique bird performances. Based on the iconographic criteria, it dates back to the time of the Emperor Theophilos (829-842), when by his orders, "divine figures are to be removed from all the churches, while they are to be decorated and painted with beasts and hens instead" (Theophanes, Chronikon III, 10). There is also preserved later frescoes dating back to the 13th century, as well as the representation of the Deisis in the chapel. The iconostasis also dates to this time. The effort to rescue this unique monument began in 1993 by J.-G. Eynard of Geneva and the Amitiés gréco-suisses of Lausanne financing the restoration study of the monument. It was completed in 2016.