January 31, 2020

The Church Built Over the Spot Where the Holy New Martyr Elias Ardounis was Martyred in Kalamata

Saint Elias Ardounis was born in Kalamata in the 17th century and worked as a barber. One day he became a Muslim, but soon after repented and secretly went to Mount Athos to weep for his apostasy. After becoming a monk and staying on the Holy Mountain for eight years, he decided to return to Kalamata to confess his faith publicly before those whom he had previously renounced Christ. For this he was beaten, imprisoned and tortured, and finally burned alive just outside Kalamata in a place called Velioura on Kallipateira Street. This happened on January 31, 1685.

In the 18th century the people of Kalamata had a small church built on the spot where Saint Elias suffered martyrdom. Because Saint Elias was a condemned criminal by Turkish law, the Turks would not authorize for the name of the church to be dedicated to him, so instead they dedicated it to the Holy Forty Martyrs of Sebaste. This small church is today a chapel of the famous Cathedral of Ypapanti in Kalamata, and goes by the name Holy Forty Martyrs-Saint Elias Ardounis Chapel.