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My cousin and her family are Greek Orthodox. Friends of hers from her church back in Illinois were visiting at the same time that I was and we all took a trip up the mountain to the monastery of Cephalonia’s patron saint: Moni Agiou Gerasimou. Because he is the island’s patron saint many children are named after him, which is why “Gerry” is a popular name here.

Gerasimou was a bit of a hermit and hid in caves below what was the monastery’s original temple. You can climb down some stairs and see the caves. Also, the body of Gerasimou is held in a crypt here and may be visited and honored.

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The temple is beautiful but a newer, even more extravagent, church is built next to it and has been in the process of being completed for over thirty years. Inside are golden chandeliers, white marble fixtures, and icons painted in a rainbow of bright colors and embellished by gilded backgrounds that depict every story of the Bible. The iconographers explained that they only paint in spring and summer when the weather makes it possible for the paint to dry properly.

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Of interest to me, as an artist, was the traditional style in which the icons are painted. The building and artists are modern but the figures are painted in a style that ignores what modern painters know about proper figure proportions and accurate portrayal of the human form. Regardless, the site is a must see for any visitor to the island of Cepahlonia.

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