The time of year, dictates that there are few visitors to Hydra, which means that the Patron Saint's Day of Aghios Konstandinos (Άγιος Κωνσταντίνος) is much more of a local community observence. But of course, out of season visitors and non-Greek Orthodox residents of the island, are warmly welcomed to take part in or watch the 'Litaneftiki' procession of this happy and colourful Greek Orthodox Church service.
Text and Photos by Kelsey Edwards 14th November
Copyright HydraDirect 2015
Additional photo copyright: Reproduced with the kind permission of Σπήλιος Σπηλιώτης as credited below.
The Neo-martyr, Saint Konstandinos, was born in Hydra, circa 1770. He lived with his father, Michael and his Mother, Marina, at their home in the area called Kiaffa, which is one of the oldest residential areas of the island, high above Hydra town.
Today, the modern Church of Aghios (Saint, masculine) Konstandinos is built on the site of his birthplace and is the focal point for the celebrations and services on the 14th November each year.
Konstandinos and his family lived during the period when Greece was occupied by the Ottoman Empire (now modern day Turkey).
As an eighteen-year-old, Konstandinos left Hydra and went to Rhodes to find work. He found employment with a local Turkish rular. During this employment he converted to Islam, taking the name Hasan and abandoned his Orthodox faith.
Three years later he regretted his decision, repented and to atone for loosing his original faith he decided to testify and declare himself Christian and no longer of Islam. Unsure as to whether Konstandinos truly knew his own mind, the Orthodox Church sent him from Rhodes to Constantinople and from there to Mount Athos.
In Iviron Monastery at Mount Athos, he proved his belief as a Christian and prepared himself to renounce the faith of Islam. With the blessing of the Orthodox Fathers, he returned to Rhodes.
Konstandinos was presented to the ruler he had previously worked for and to whom he confessed his renewed belief in Christ. He died for his Orthodox Faith on November 14th 1800 AD.
Three years later, his mother journeyed to Rhodes to collect his body, leaving part of his arm for the Orthodox Church in Rhodes, returning the relic to its final resting place back where he was born.
Aghios Konstandinos is the Patron Saint of both Hydra and Rhodes.
The Church Fathers of Hydra, led by Archpriest Fr. Akindynos Dardanos, Vicar General of Hydra, are hosts to a number of guests over the three days of celebration and responsible for its organization.
The program of services is much the same each year with set times for everything to happen correctly.
The evening before: 13th November
At 17:00 - Small Vespers are held at the Church of Aghios Konstandinos in Kiaffa.
Followed at 18:30 by Great Vespers at the Cathedral Church of the Assumptin of the Virgin Mary in Hydra Town. (Shown above.)
His Eminence, Metropolitan of Hydra, Spetses and Aegina, Mr. Ephraim officiating.
Ag. Konstandinos Patron St Day - Crusession to Hydra Town
Celebration of the Patron Saint of Hydra, Agios Konstandinos, includes a service at the church dedicated to the Saint high above Hydra Town, which is attended by a large number of the community. Then the entire congregation walk down the winding road from Kiaffa, down Miaoulis Street to the Cathedral in town.Posted by Kelsey J Edwards on Saturday, 14 November 2015
The main day: 14th November
At 06:30 the Orthros Service is held at the Church of Aghios Konstandinos in Kiaffa.
Followed at 07:15 by the start of the Divine Liturgy.
During the service the congregation swells with more and more locals who have climbed the stairs from Kala Pigadi to join the throng.
At 10:30 (14th) the Doxology is sung in the subsequently formed 'Litaneftiki' procession leaves the Church of Aghios Konstandinos and makes its way down the winding road from Kiaffa through the pine trees to Kala Pigadi and then down to the harbour following Andreas Miaoulia Street. Eventually the procession finishes with a blessing outside the port entrance to the Cathedral.
The procession order:
Along the way, the procession stops at every church and chapel. Blessings are given and the choir sings the Doxology at each stop.
Just after the Angelika Hotel, the streets are adorned with bunting and the harbour is strewn with leaves.
Eventually at around 11:30 the procession reaches the port. Everyone is marshaled into place and the Bishop and priests stand on a decorated, raised platform, just outside the main entrance to the Cathedral courtyard, to give the final blessing.
At 17:00 (14th) Evensong is held back up the hill at the Church of Aghios Konstandinos in Kiaffa.
Last Day: 15th November
At 07:00 Matins and Divine Liturgy.