Panayiopoula is the local name for the Orthodox Metochi devoted to the Virgin Mother, the Odigitria. A metochi is a monastic dependency and in this case of the Holy Monastery Platytera, the famous male monastery on the edge of Old Town Corfu.
Just up from the Town Hall Square in a short, unusually quiet street is the chapel and a two storied adjoining building, with a cell and reception area on each floor. It is painted in the favourite Ionian colour of soft Mediterranean pink. An outside staircase leads to the bell tower, flower pots on each step. It is protected on all sides by tall Venetian houses.
The Odigtria icon, a particularly loved presentation of the Panayia and cherished for its special grace, is the essence of the church. It stands in a separate iconostasi, is silver clad and strung with rows of silver and gold offerings. Probably it dates from the time the church was built, which according to the rich Corfu Archives we estimate to be before 1650.
Originally the church was in private ownership until a monk from the Platytera Monastery bought the chapel and cells around 1900 and donated it to his monastery. The church stood unharmed all the years and became known for two main events – the Epitaph procession each Holy Friday and the Odigitria festival on 23 August. These two popular occasions are perfected by a group of locals and neighbours who assist and contribute, as their goal is to preserve Corfu customs.
Today the chapel is open mornings and afternoons. Greeks and foreign visitors can venerate the beautiful icon, sit in prayer, contemplate, even express themselves through tears.
More information can be found at corfu-odigitria.com.
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