The Remarkable Black Orthodox Saints Icon in Milies Pelion

posted in: Pelion, Religion | 2

Updated May 22nd, 2022 by Travel the Greek Way

black orthodox Saints in Milies Pelion
Saint Moses and Saint Barbaros in Milies Pelion Greece

Are there any black Orthodox Saints in Greek Orthodox Church? Yes, there are black Orthodox Saints and can be found in Pelion Peninsula, in central Greece.

Me Evgenia Pelion Milies November
Me in Milies in Pelion Mt

Greece is a predominantly religious country, with Greek Orthodox churches and Monasteries at every corner of the country. The most famous and well-known Greek Orthodox Monasteries are the large complexes of Mount Athos and Meteora Monasteries.

Meteora Monasteries Agia Triada
Meteora Monastery

However, a very old church, Agioi Taxiarhes Pammegiston Church in Milies in Pelion Mt., contains the rare Icon of Saint Moses and Saint Barbaros, the two Ethiopian Orthodox Saints.

There are not many black Orthodox Saints in the Greek Church. Historically, there has been a very strong religious connection between Greece and Ethiopia throughout the centuries that continues until today.

black orthodox Saints Milies pelion central square
Milies Village

Ethiopia’s 60% of its population are Christians and most of them are Coptic Orthodox Christians. Coptic actually means “Egyptian” and they originate from Alexandria.

If you wonder how the Ethiopians became Christians: Froumentius, a Greek – Phoenician merchant, went to Ethiopia in 320 AD and preached Christianity to the locals. He translated the Scripts into their native language and traveled incessantly all over Ethiopia talking to the locals about Christ. He was nominated a Saint by the Orthodox Coptic Church right after his peaceful death in 383 AD.

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Where Best to Stay in Milies Pelion Mt

black orthodox church -  hotel in Milies
Iliovolo Guesthouse Terrace

Iliovolo Guesthouse (mid-range): A lovely hotel, 15 minutes from the Pelion beaches, with fantastic views, perfectly clean rooms, and the personal touch for a family-run hotel. Check it out on Booking.com here

Who were the two black Orthodox Saints?

Saint Moses the Ethiopian

black orthodox Saints Moses the Ethiopian
St. Moses the Ethiopian

St. Moses the Ethiopian (330-405 AD) was sold as a slave to a rich landowner but he was expelled from the property because of a murder he committed. Soon after St. Moses, the Ethiopian became the leader of a gang of bandits who committed numerous robberies and murders. The authorities were chasing them relentlessly so he sought refuge in a monastery near Alexandria.

In the monastery, he was intrigued by the sermons of the monks and was soon overwhelmed by the great piety of the monastic community and begged them to allow him to join. The sermon of the Christ and monks’ piety made a radical change in his character and he was soon baptized and became a Christian. Later on, the Orthodox Church made him a Presbyter.

He spent his entire life feeling repentance for his crimes and living a humble and pious life. He was violently killed by a band of robbers when he was 75 years old and soon after the Orthodox Church declared him a Saint.

Black Orthodox Saint Barbaros the Ethiopian

St. Barbaros was born 500 years later than St. Moses but he shares a similar life story. He was born in 800 AD in Egypt to Ethiopian parents who were possibly Christians.

When he was still quite young he became a member of a pirate band who somehow arrived in the Greek area of Akarnania slaughtering and destroying everything. At the Xiromero village, there was a big battle between the pirates and the locals. The locals killed all the pirates except St. Barbaros who escaped and survived by hiding in the vineyards.

One day St. Barbaros reached a church where he witnessed a miracle and this changed his whole life. He was later baptized Christian and lived as a monk in a nearby cave. He was accidentally killed by a group of hunters who thought he was a wild animal. St. Barbaros was later declared a saint by the Orthodox Church.

Where is the Icon of the Black Orthodox Saints?

The rare Icon is housed along with other 300 Icons depicting Saints not widely known in the Greek Orthodox Church in a historical church called Agioi Taxiarches Pammegiston, in Milies village in Pelion Mt.

black orthodox Saints In Chruch Pammegistoi in Milies
Agioi Taxiarhes Pammegiston Church
black orthodox Saints Church with frescoes
Agioi Taxiarches Pammegistoi Church frescoes

We don’t really know when exactly the beautiful and historic Agioi Taxiarches church was built. We do know, however, that it was renovated in 1741, and the remarkable post-Byzantine religious paintings were revealed in their full splendor.

Agioi Taxiarches is a special and unique Greek Orthodox church built in such a way so that at first glance doesn’t look like a usual Byzantine-style Greek church. The reason behind that was that during the Ottoman occupation of Greece, Greeks were trying to keep their churches as invisible as possible.

There are no windows only small openings high in the walls so that it looks more like a shed rather than a Greek church.

black orthodox Saints pammegiston taxiarxon iconostasis
Iconostasis of Taxiarxhis Church

The church is notorious for its excellent acoustics, its unique frescoes, and the rare Greek Orthodox icons such as:

  • The 2 Black Orthodox Saints
  • Christ fight against the Devil
  • A very rare human life cycle with astrological depictions or Rota Fortunae.
  • Saint Christopher in the shape of a sheep
  • The exquisite wood-carved iconostasis made of linden wood and covered with gold leaf depicts, embroidered and “embroidered” on it, representations and scenes from Noah’s ark, animals, and birds of Africa.
Makrinitsa Village in Pelion Mount
Milies village

The Agioi Taxiarches Pammegistoi Church can be easily found on the main square of Milies village in Mount Pelion.

Milies Village in Central Pelion Mt

Black Orthodox Saints Milies central square
Milies Main Square

The old stories mention that Milies village was built deep in the forest and high on the Pelion mountain so that the Pelion villagers escape from the constant pirate raids.

Black Orthodox Saints Old steam train in Milies Pelion
Milies – Ano Lechonia train

Milies, besides being a gorgeous place to visit, is also famous for its old gorge train “Moutzouris” that connects Milies with Ano Lechonia village. (Just like the other famous gorge train in Kalavryta Peloponnese)

Black Orthodox Saints Milies old train station
Milies Old Train Station

For general info on the train and ticket purchase for Milies – Lechonia, you can visit the train’s website here. From the train station, you can hike the 2-3 km to Milies village using a narrow cobblestone trail.

Black Orthodox Saints - Milies Library
Entrance to the Milies Library

If you like old books and artifacts pay a visit to the “Old Library” in Milies, which is home to a huge number of old artifacts, books, and maps.

How to Get to Milies

Milies is 357 km far from Athens, with an easy highway drive all the way to the large city of Volos, which sits on the foot of the Pelion Mt. After Volos, and towards its first large village Portaria, the road gets narrower with turns and changes in altitude until you get to Milies.

Pelion with views to Volos ©newspaper.gr

Pelion Greece is an ideal summer vacation destination as both its western and eastern areas are facing the Aegean sea with wonderful beaches to choose from.

Black Orthodox Saints mylopotamos beach
Mylopotamos Beach in Pelion
Black Orthodox Saints Tsagkarada Square and church
Tsagkarada village Pelion

Pelion Mount’s highest peak is at 1624 m. It is also perfect for a winter vacation as it has forested mountains, ski resorts, and amazing accommodation opportunities with fireplaces.

Black Orthodox Saints The ski resort in Agriolefkes Pelion
Winter Pelion © Justlife

There is a well-organized ski center in the Agriolefkes area in Pelion with four slopes for downhill skiing, aerial lifts, and a nice resort for overnight accommodation.

Black Orthodox Saints - Pelion  Vyzitsavillage
Vyzitsa Village

There are more than 25 stunningly beautiful villages on Mount Pelion surrounded by green landscapes, crystal clear springs, built with the traditional Pelion architecture with paved cobbled streets and stone bridges.

Hiking Zagora Pelion
Forest in Pelion

The villages are built amongst forests with tall beeches, plane trees, chestnuts, oaks, pines, and crops with olives and apples at lower altitudes, and in many cases, there are streams running around. Pelion is ideal for hiking, climbing, canyoning or any other outdoor activity you can think of.

The most popular Pelion villages are:

Makrinitsa,Argalasti, Tsagkarada, Vyzitsa, Milies and Zagora

Evgenia in Tsagkarada Pelion
Me at Tsagkarada old Bridge

Athens Quick Reference

best hotels in Plaka Athens- Ava hotel
Ava Hotel and Suites in Athens Greece

Where to stay in Athens: Grande Bretagne (luxury), Ava Hotel and Suites (mid-range), A little Taste of Home Guest House(budget)

Heading to the Greek Islands from Athens? Book your ferry tickets in advance with no-hidden-fees FerryScanner or FerryHopper

Essential Things to Have for Athens Metro: An anti-theft design Backpack

How to Get to Greece

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Like most visitors to Greece, you will probably have to fly to Athens or Thessaloniki International Airports to get to your final destinations.

For the Cheapest, Fastest, Best Worldwide Flights, I highly recommend the Skyscanner search engine site.

If you prefer to avoid the hassle of public transport and wish for some luxury pampering, you should book a private transfer with English speaking chauffeur from Athens International Airport to Piraeus Ferries. Check availability and prices on Viator here

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2 Responses

  1. Fred

    Wow this is really making me want to go there. The church is amazing! The hiking around there must be incredible. I can imagine the old cobbled trails through the forest. Nice shot of you at the bridge!

  2. Evgenia Mataragka

    Yes, the church is quite unique for so many reasons and the village is really lovely. I love that bridge and every time I visit Tsagkarada I always hike there an easy hike.

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