Our Lady of Episkopi, Crete via Zante

By: | Post date: June 11, 2023 | Comments: No Comments
Posted in categories: Culture, Greece

I forgot to post this earlier when I was going through the Post-Byzantine museum. It’s a link back home to Crete.

This icon of Our Lady of the Village of Episkopi was brought to Zante from Crete by refugees from the fall of Crete in 1669.

“Cretan” in Zante meant “refugee” for a very long time afterwards, and the influx of Cretans allowed some continuity between Cretan and Ionian Islander literature: the very last play included in the Cretan canon, for example, Zeno, was in fact possibly written in Zante, where it was first stage in 1683.

(And as a further tidbit that I didn’t know until today: Dionysios Solomos himself traced his descent from refugees from Handras. A village 30 km south of Sitia.)

The body of the icon of Our Lady of Episkopi was repainted in the 17th century, the face is the original 11th century face, presumed painted in Constantinople.

Icons were routinely coated with silver and gold, made it to look like clothing. When the museum removed the silver coating, it sounds a further inscription: the icon had been moved to Candia (now Iraklio) from its original site in the countryside in 1657, as the Ottomans conquered all of the island except for its holdout capital.

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