Exile and Art

A unique meeting of history art and religion at the same place

Agia kioura is the imprint of a special moment in modern Greek history. The small, single-roomed arched church of the 18th century is distinguished from its hagiography, which was made by the political exiles in the years of the dictatorship by the artists Tsakiris, Karagiannis and Tzaneteas. If you look closely the painted walls you will see that their fellow prisoners, the women of Leros and gendarmes where used as models.

These are unique hagiographies with innovative hagiographic motifs that refer to Modernism (Pop Art). The  greek poet Yiannis Ritsos, was also exiled to Partheni at the same time (1968) and he wrote 16 of the “18 Lianogiouda of the Bitter Homeland”, and among them the emblematic “Romiosini do not Cry”. In 2001 the Church of Agia Kioura was characterized by the Ministry of Culture as  preservable monument.

Digging through the past, according to tradition, Matrona (the Saint of the Church) was a rich girl from Chios island, who snuck away from her parents and became a nun. The inhabitants of Leros named the “Saint Kioura”, probably from a corruption of the word “Kira”, as the female monasteries used to call the Mother Superior “Kira”. According to another tradition, Agia Matrona was the wife of a great pirate who settled on the island.  The nun remained in popular memory as a woman of visceral, who helped many residents and dedicated herself to charity. As residents admired her work, they called her “Saint Matrona”, probably a corruption of “Patrona” (a person with high social prestige and position that protected weak people) or “kioura”, corruption of “Kira” because they recognized her as “Lady of  the island “.

Except from the one of a kind chapel, Agia Kioura is undeniably one of the most beautiful natural beaches of the island, with sand, pebbles and enchanting crystal turquoise waters.

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