St George is the island’s patron saint.
The church was built in 1870.
The work was undertaken by craftsmen from Santorini. For mortar they used theraic earth, a material that forms an especially hard surface.
Ancient marbles and columns of a Byzantine church found near the cemetery were also used in the courtyard and the entrance gate.
In 1890 the iconostasis was built and St George’s icon placed. The icon bears the signatures of six pirate smugglers who had financially assisted in the construction. Old icons of St. John and St Nicholas were also placed in the church.
The saint’s day for St George in the Orthodox Church is the 23rd of April, unless this happens to be during the period of the Lent, in which case it is moved to Easter Monday.
On that day before the end of Holy Mass there used to be a litany of the saint’s icon around the village. Priests and the congregation would escort the icon to the edge of the village chanting and singing hymns to sanctify the village.
After the end of Mass, a volunteer would offer a meal to everybody present in honour of the saint. This usually meant hundreds of people. The provision of foodstuffs and the preparation of the meal would begin days before with the assistance of many other volunteers, who helped with the preparations, cooking, serving and finally the cleaning of the premises afterwards. The meal consisted of a stew of goat’s meat in tomato sauce with spaghetti, tripe soup, salad, wine and soft drinks. Cooking was done over a wood fire in a designated space next to the church, the Magippio, from the Byzantine word “magipos” meaning cook and baker. The meal was served in a special area behind the church, on long tables where everybody sat together.
At the end of the meal, the person who would prepare next year’s feast volunteered for this labour of love.
The custom has endured practically unchanged to this day.
Between 1941 and 1944 the islands were under Italian occupation, whose Command was based on Amorgos. Although local produce was commandeered for the Italian Army, the islanders were allowed to procure the necessary foodstuffs to prepare the saint’s feast.
On Friday 1st October 1970 at 2.00pm, the new vicar of the church disembarks at the jetty, near Spilia. Father Efstathios Eleftheriou, or Papa Stathis, would, for the next 36 years strive tirelessly for the maintenance and improvement of the churches.
In 1973, after the number of the faithful who wished to volunteer for the preparation of the feast increased significantly, it was unanimously decided to draw lots at the end of the meal to decide next year’s Panigiras. It was not allowed for last year’s Panigiras to participate, so that others would also have a chance. A second drawing decided a deputy in case the first was unable to fulfil the duty.
The meal now includes a veal stew, fried potatoes, tripe soup, meatballs, salad and cheese, wine, beer and soft drinks. The meat and soup are still prepared over a wood fire, the potatoes are cooked in deep friers.
In 1975, it is decided that the icon procession will follow a new route: from the church to Loutro, where the fishing boats would also begin to follow it from the sea, all the way to the harbour to bless the sea and then round the rest of the village and back to the church, where two of the faithful would hold it aloft to allow the congregation to pass underneath it and ask for the saint’s blessing.
In 1980 the church and it’s courtyard are renovated.
The task was undertaken by Amorgos architect Stefanos Nomikos, who specialised in traditional architecture, and the builders were Giannis Skarlatos and his brothers.
The old mortar was removed both inside and outside, and replaced. The old roof of the cooking area, the Magipio, which was a mix of thatch and clay, was removed and replaced with one of reinforced concrete.
A donation by Maria Prasinou Psarrou paid for the enlargement of the dining area, the creation of an office for administrative needs and the building of public restrooms.
In 1997 the frescoes are restored. The work was completed the following year, 1998.
In 2000, Papa Stathis’ petition to the Archbishop of Tiverias Alexios, of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem is answered when a small part of the relic of St George is delivered into his trembling with emotion hands.
The laying of the relic in the church took place in an atmosphere filled with bell ringing, fireworks and the cheers of the delighted inhabitants.
Since then on the saint’s feast the bones are placed on the Epitaph and adorned with flowers.
After Mass there is a holy procession attended by the Right Reverend Bishop of Thira, Amorgos and the Isles.