As of the 20th April 1949, under Law No.957, the holy shrine of St.
Barbara in the Egaleo district of the St. Barbara Municipality is under the ownership,
jurisdiction and administration of the Apostolic Diakonia of the Church of Greece.
Proceeds from this holy shrine are always donated to various missionary and social
needs. THE PILGRIMAGE TEMPLE
The Temple as we see it today was built in 1904, and its architectural
rhythm is that of a three-naved basilica. The central nave honors the name of
Saint Barbara. The right-hand nave is dedicated to the Glorious, latter-day Martyr
Fanourios, while the left-hand nave is dedicated to Saint Mavra. Both these chapels
were consecrated by the late Metropolitan of Athens, Theokletos I.
The Holy Sanctuary of the Temple is also named DISCOVERY, «EVRESIS»,
as it denotes the exact spot where the miraculous icon of St. Barbara was discovered.
We have no historical information on the year in which the first Temple was erected;
it is said, that it was the remnant of an older Monastery that was dissolved and
destroyed. The only authentic historical information that we have on the existence
of a Temple is the year «1774» that is clearly inscribed on the mural icon of
St Barbara, inside the Holy Sanctuary.
We have assumed the existence of a Temple prior to the year 1774,
given that the hagiography of mural icons is not usually concurrent to the actual
building of the edifice. Unwritten tradition that has been preserved by Christians
to this day, maintains the existence of a Temple in this area for over 1000 years;
this would make it almost as old as the neighbouring Monastery of Daphni.
The tiny church that existed in the location that the present Church
now stands was practically lost, on account of its abandonment for so many years.
It had been buried under 80 cm of earth and stones, and was being used as a sheep
pen. This conclusion was reached, by observing the extent of the damages to the
murals. This also explains the differing depth of the central nave of the present
Temple. THE DISCOVERY OF THE HOLY ICON
How and when was the icon of St. Barbara discovered? In a wondrous
way. About 100 years ago, a shepherd had been using the little church as a pen
for his sheep. One night, he saw a young woman in his dream, who said to him:
«This place that you are using as shelter for your sheep is mine, and you must
stop desecrating it». The shepherd paid no attention to the dream, and did nothing
about it. After several days had gone by, he started to lose one sheep each day.
The young woman then re-appeared in his dream, and said to him «Tomorrow, two
people will come to this place. You will accost them, and ask them to dig the
ground on the right-hand side of the entrance». Indeed, the next day two women
- Marigo Koula and Angelica K. Tsambazi - came from Piraeus to that place to gather
herbs. These were the women for whom was reserved the great blessing of discovering
the miraculous icon of St. Barbara; an icon measuring 37 x 26 cm., which to this
day is guarded within the Shrine and is acknowledged as a holy relic and a boast
for every Christian.
News of this event spread throughout Greece, and from that day hence,
the faithful swarm to this saint’s grace, to pray and to ask for her embassies
and her intervention.
A large volume would be hardly enough space, to record the miracles
and signs that the pious faithful have preserved, during the 200 or so years of
this Shrine, not to mention the innumerable dedications and offerings that are
daily brought here by pilgrims, with faith, reverence and a eucharist disposition.
Today, with the permission of the Technical Services of the Church
of Greece, the supervision of the Archaeological Society and the excellent collaboration
between our Church and the archaeologists, the restoration and renovation work
on the holy Temple has commenced, along with the maintenance of the exquisitely
carved woodwork and the murals - many of which have been narrated by the renowned
hagiographer Fotis Kontoglou - as well as the landscaping of the surrounding area
of the Temple. The cost of this project has been estimated to reach 350 million
drachmas, and is to be borne by the Apostolic Diakonia of the Church of Greece.
The work is progressing well, with the help of God, the grace of the saint, and
the love of our Christians.