February 10, 2021

The Turkish Boatman and the Holy Icon of Saint Haralambos

The Cathedral of Saint Haralambos is located in Varvasi of Chios. It was built in 1927 by persecuted refugees from Asia Minor who came to Chios after the Asia Minor Catastrophe of 1922 and lived in the Varvasi area of the city of Chios.

Due to its rough construction it suffered severe damage in the earthquakes of 1949 and so in 1967 it was demolished and rebuilt from scratch.

One of the most important treasures of the church is the Holy Icon of Saint Haralambos, which dates back to 1877 and comes from the Church of Saint Haralambos in Krini (Cesme). According to testimonies, the icon was brought to Chios by a Turkish boatman who had taken it from the Metropolis of Krini, when he saw a vision with Saint Haralambos ordering him to take him to his new "home". A Sacred Relic of Saint Haralambos is also kept in the church.

The narthex of the church is decorated with two murals that represent the history of the church and the uprooting of the Greeks of Asia Minor. On one side there is a representation of the arrival of the Holy Icon of Saint Haralambos in Chios with the Turkish boatman, while on the other side there is a representation of the persecution of the refugees which was painted according to the testimonies of living refugees. The church architecturally belongs to the three-aisled tile-covered basilica without a dome.

The church is built of Thymian stone and consists of a Narthex, a Main Temple and a Holy Bema. It is decorated with murals painted on canvas which were painted by the Athenian iconographer Michael Douzenakis between the years 1986-1991. 
Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.