The Orthodox Meets The Catholic In Santorini
Almost all Greeks are Orthodox Christians but in Santorini you can also find the Catholic doctrine, which first appeared on the island in 1207 when the Crusaders came and divided most of the country into Romish domains. The Venetian occupation brought along the Catholics who lived in the 5 castles of Santorini, whereas the Orthodoxes were mainly poor farmers who lived in cave houses in the villages. There are a lot of churches on the island that were originally private temples built by captains after a successful voyage before they were donated to the people. It is said that Santorini counts about 600 churches and chapels altogether, most of them being Orthodox although the Catholic temples built by the Venetians still exist whereas some churches have 2 separate sancta for both doctrines. The Orthodox temples are usually square white with blue domes, built according to a simple structure that was also used for houses since a dome provides warmth during the winter and coolness during the summer whereas the Catholic ones are more elaborately built in a baroque style that is definitely distinctive to your eyes since they are far less than the classic Cycladic Orthodox temples. Four Catholic orders existed on the island: The Dominicans, whose monastery is in Fira, the Jesuits, the order of St. Lazarus which built the “Greek-French Business College of St. Joseph” and the Sisters of Mercy who did great charity work. The most important Byzantine monument in Santorini is the temple of The Holy Mother of Episkopi, located in Episkopi Gonia as well as the Metropolitan Orthodox temple in Fira that is the church of the Hypapante. In Fira, you may also visit the Metropolitan Catholic temple that is dedicated to St. John The Baptist. It is also remarkable how a lot of couples -besides the locals- choose to get married at one of Santorini’s quaint churches or chapels.