The Holy Virgin’s Church

Panagias Churhc
On Kato Koufonisi very close to the old hamlet are traces of a Byzantine church.

In 1651 the inhabitants decide to erect a new church dedicated to the Virgin.
It was a risky venture because the island was then under Ottoman occupation, and the Turks forbade any Christian activities. Therefore the inhabitants built the chapel by digging deep into the earth so that it wouldn’t be very visible from the sea and would not attract the attention of the Turks.
Panagias Churhc
In the 1970s Dimitris Nomikos donated a bit of land around the chapel so that rainwater drain could be created to prevent flooding of the church and its courtyard.
The endeavour was undertaken by Papa Stathis and Michalis and Maria Mavrou.
They dug considerably more land around the chapel making it far more conspicuous and creating enough space for the congregation.
When Dimitris Nomikos asked Papa Stathis why he had disobeyed and dug more land than instructed, he received the following answer: “I obeyed Her instructions, it was what She asked” meaning the Virgin.
Subsequently Manolis Mavros (Manoleas) laid down concrete on the courtyard.

In 1990 Dimitris Nomikos donated more land so that a half-covered area and public restrooms could be built. Some maintenance work was carried out and a campanile was built by Vaggelis Passaris.
Panagias Churhc
The chapel is thronged every year on August 15 when the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary is celebrated.
On the morning of August 15 the fishing boats carry the faithful from Pano Koufonisi to the celebrations on Kato Koufonisi.
It is the only day in the year when the little ferry boat Skopelitis, which serves the Mikres Cyclades line, deviates from its normal course to call at Kato Koufonisi, at the jetty near the chapel.
Initially, after Mass the congregation were offered cheese and figs by the islanders. With time local families started collecting and distributing a more substantial repast including also olives, meatballs, fruit, pastries, water and soft drinks.

At the end of the day, the fishing boats carry the people back to Koufonisi, in a playful race creating a fun, exuberant atmosphere.

Panagias Churhc

Panagias Churhc