The Celebration of Saint Fanourios in Paroikia
Text: Panayotis Patellis
“The twenty-seventh of August is in remembrance of the martyr Saint Fanourios”. This is written in the book of liturgy of the church Minaion (Calendar), which details the name days of each saint. Saint Fanourios is an important figure in the Greek Orthodox Church.
Until shortly after World War II there was no chapel dedicated to this saint in the town of Paroikia on the island of Paros. But Saint Fanourios is and has been worshiped especially in Rhodes. Only in recent times has he become better known in Paros. At the end of the 1950s, the small church of Saint Fanourios was built north of the chapel of Evaggelistria (the beautiful chapel with an octagonal cupola and a two-arch belfry, situated on the parallel street east of the market street). It is a small church with a flat roof connected to the chapel of Evaggelistria through three graceful arches. The large icon of Saint Fanourios was transferred there from the Evaggelistria chapel.
This year the celebration of Saint Fanourios, like all years, is brilliant. On the eve of the celebration, during vespers, local inhabitants as well as many summer visitors congregate in the two chapels and on the street outside. Many bring with them the “Pies of Saint Fanourios”. (Fanouropitas. Pastries traditionally made with 9 ingredients and no eggs.) They are then placed on the designated area next to the large icon of the saint. The pies are offerings of the faithful. (And the hopeful) They are promised to the saint for his help in revealing the locations of lost possessions!
Οn this day of the celebration, the mass is led by Emmanuel Fokianos, parish priest of Zoodochos Pege (Life-giving Spring) Paroikia. After the liturgy and the ritual blessing of the bread, the priest also blesses the “Pies of Saint Fanourios“ and all the congregation. At the end of the ceremonies, the celebrants are invited to the house of long-time patrons of the saint, Panagiotis and Dina Patelli. Beverages and snacks are offered in the family tradition. With these treats the celebration of Saint Fanourios’ name day is complete!
Since 1959 the Patelli family has been active participants in keeping the Saint Fanouries festivities alive. Romalia Patelli, (Mother of Panagiotis) who lived across the church, initiated the yearly mass in memory of her husband Giannis, who died on the name day of the saint. And since her death in 1969 the family has continued this lovely tradition.
These celebrations and humble festivals fill and warm the hearts of all of us here on Paros. They provide us with a deep sense of community, tradition and joy. It is an excellent opportunity for visitors and neighbors to meet, exchange kind words and participate in Parian life and its continuing traditions.
A wish, a prayer, and a hope…
That these customs be preserved, won’t fade, or be covered by the ashes of forgetfulness.
That this invaluable inheritance is respectfully honored and cherished and
That Saint Fanourios keep a kind and gentle eye and bless us all.