High above Marathounta there is a church which overlooks the city of Paphos and the surrounding area. We have often used it as a landmark, and it has featured from a distance in several of our articles. So we thought it about time that we visited Panagia Odigitria to get a close-up view, and to enjoy the stunning scenery.
The Church From Above
From Marathounta it is quite a steep drive to the church, but it is well worth it. From here, as you can see, you get amazing panoramic views of Paphos and the surrounding area.
If you have seen the driving film we published a couple of days ago, you will know that this is where we disembarked. I guess during services the carpark can get quite full, but today we had the place to ourselves.
I had the drone with me and this was the perfect place to make a film. You can see it at the end of the blog.
When I drove up here, I only knew this place as the church on the hill. I was intrigued when I heard its name, as "Odigitria" means nothing to me. Since taking these pictures I looked it up, and it turns out that the word translates to "Hodegetria". This in itself doesn't get us very far, but I looked that up on Wikipedia and found the following:
A Hodegetria, or Virgin Hodegetria, is an iconographic depiction of the Theotokos (Virgin Mary) holding the Child Jesus at her side while pointing to him as the source of salvation for humankind. The Virgin's head usually inclines towards the child, who raises his hand in a blessing gesture. In the Western Church this type of icon is sometimes called Our Lady of the Way.
The most venerated icon of the Hodegetria type, regarded as the original, was displayed in the Monastery of the Panaghia Hodegetria in Constantinople, which was built specially to contain it. Unlike most later copies it showed the Theotokos standing full-length. It was said to have been brought back from the Holy Land by Eudocia, the wife of emperor Theodosius II (408–450), and to have been painted by Saint Luke the apostle himself. The icon was double-sided, with a crucifixion on the other side, and was "perhaps the most prominent cult object in Byzantium".
The original icon has probably now been lost, although various traditions claim that it was carried to Russia or Italy. There are a great number of copies of the image, including many of the most venerated of Russian icons, which have themselves acquired their own status and tradition of copying.
Above the church there is another building, which reminds me of the Presbytery you get in Catholic Churches. Actually it doesn't. I just looked "presbytery" up. I had assumed it meant "meeting room" but it in fact it refers to the house of a Catholic Priest.
This blog is all about learning...