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Joannis Theologos Kaminiou near Kalandos

On the hills to the north of Kalandós, the large bay at the southern tip of Naxos, near two shepherds’ houses in an area called Kamíni (from the name of the traditional lime kilns), stands a small church dedicated to St John the Theologian, in which impressive 14th-century murals have been preserved. One can reach it by fairly wide, but today unused monopáti (path).

The small church of Joannis Theologos Kaminiou is located in the remote southern part of Naxos near Kalandós.

It can be reached via an old path that branches off the road at this spring (now without water).

The path is quite wide and well made; it could be a section of the former footpath from Filóti to Kalandós.

The church of St John the Theologian was built in the 11th or 12th century on the remains of an Early Christian basilica with three naves. It has the shape of a cruciform church with a dome and is covered with tiles. Right next to it stands a single-nave church without dome dedicated to St Theodore.

The church has a wooden altar wall; the preserved wall paintings are located in the apse.

Two or three marble slabs with relief decoration have been preserved from the original Early Christian basilica (as well as some parts of the building, e.g. the stone columns bearing the dome); this piece stands now in the niche above the entrance.

No paintings have been preserved in the relatively high and narrow dome. Imported stones of volcanic origin (from Santorini?) were used for the arches supporting the dome (as in many Byzantine buildings on the island).

view back towards the entrance

In the apse, as is customary on Naxos, the Deesis is depicted with Christ in the centre and the intercessors Mary on the left and John the Baptist on the right: here the believers could come with their prayers and petitions, which Mary and John would convey to Jesus.

here the head of Mary, with the beautiful dark red background of Deesis

the head of Christ with its unusually narrow nose

On the wall of the apse, below the Deesis, the Eucharist is depicted, a motif that is not uncommon in this place in the churches of Naxos. Here you can see the three hierarchs standing on the left-hand side.

The Eucharist is depicted in the centre (“melismos” = breaking of bread): Between and below two poorly preserved figures of saints, Christ is depicted as the sacrificial lamb in the Eucharist bowl on the altar.

The hierarchs on the right-hand side are less well preserved.

The hierarchs hold writings in their hands; unfortunately I can’t find anything about what is written on them.

Christ as the sacrificial lamb of the Eucharist. On the Eucharist bowl is written: “LABE FAGE TOUTO TO SOMA MOU” = “Take and eat, this is my body” (Matthew 26:26). Next to the bowl with Christ as bread stands a chalice with wine.

Apart from the Deesis and the Eucharist, only a few wall paintings have survived in the church; here the head of a saint in a niche.

The wall paintings in this church date back to 1315 (apart from a few older remains); the name of the founder has also been preserved: Nikiforos Tzokandilis.

To the south, a single-nave church dedicated to St Theodore lies directly next to the church of Joánnis Theologos. It too was probably once decorated with paintings, but hardly a trace of them has remained.

It’s always amazing to step into a church of this kind in the middle of nowhere in the barren solitude of southern Naxos!

continue: Agios Joannis and Agios Georgios in Sifones

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