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July 7, 2020

The "Footprints" of the Apostle Andrew in Leontio of Achaea

As is well known, the Apostle Andrew was martyred in the city of Patras by the Roman authorities, being crucified on an X-shaped cross while he was upside down. What is not as well known is that he was captured by Roman soldiers in a mountain village outside the city of Patras called today Leontio, though before 1923 it was known as Grozoumista. According to ecclesiastical tradition, the Apostle Andrew came to this community, which in ancient times was the center of the region and much more populated, in order to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ. In one particular spot, near the current Church of the Apostle Andrew, the "footprints" (Gr. achnari or patoma) of the Apostle can still be seen embedded in stone, which occurred while he was being chased.

The Church of the Apostle Andrew in this village dates back to around a thousand years ago, and it was built over the ruins of a more ancient church from the sixth century. The "footprints" of the Apostle are located on the Hill of Saint Andrew and are a place of pilgrimage for the faithful. Where the "footprints" are located, about 150 meters from the church, there is a small shrine dedicated to Saint Andrew. In the parish church of the village of Leontio there is another stone with an embedded print of the sole of the right foot of the Apostle Andrew, which occurred because when the Apostle Andrew was being chased he lost one of his shoes.

The current Metropolitan of Patras, Chrysostomos, in collaboration with the parish and the residents of Leontio and the wider area, decided to highlight the "footprint" and established for an annual Divine Liturgy to take place in the church on a certain Sunday of July, in memory of the passage through and the teaching of the First-Called of the Apostles in the region. The reason it takes place in July is because it offers more seasonable weather for the hike than on the regular feast of the Apostle at the end of November. So, every year, in July, the people go up to the mountainous area of Leontio to honor Saint Andrew the Apostle.