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Aug 11
Last Updated on 22 September 2011

Old Taxiarchis

Location: Mesta

The villagers' used to have the church of Old Taxiarchis their main one before the construction of "Big Taxiarchis". The road, which starts from the square, leads to this church. The "proskynima", which is the dome with the icon and the suspended oil-lamp at the side road, leads to the old church of Taxiarches. This church has been built in 1412, according to the census of churches of Chios. In the beginning, it was small as it had only arches and one aisle. But due to the fact that it had to cover the needs of worship of the whole village, they decided to add a second aisle with a united roof. This expansion took place in 1794.

The entrance for the first church was the small door. It is next to the church of Aghios Vassilios, on the right side of the present entrance. Because of the blind apses and the stonework that exist outside, the visitor can notice the more ancient building. The Turks during the "great massacre of Chios" in 1822 cause irreparable damages inside the old part of the church. It was repaired in 1833 because of the serious ravages that the entire church had.

The icon-screen of the church is really amazing. It is totally handmade and it is made of walnut tree trunk. Depictions from the Old and the New Testament are this scarce and excellent example of local woodcarving. It was constructed in April 14th, 1833. All the tools that were needed for the crucifixion can be noticed in the highest point under Christ on the Cross, on the basis of the cross: the main objects are the ladder, the pair of pincers and the hammer. The viewer can see from left to right on the next zone below depictions from the New Testament: Christ and his twelve disciples, the crucifixion, the deposition from the cross, and the resurrection.

The sun is a depiction that is constructed impressively and conceived audaciously over the central Sublime Port. Since Christian worship is very cautious in terms of references to pagan symbols, it is indeed an audacious inspiration of the artist. The most possible explanation is that the meaning is symbolic and wants to show the light of Christian faith. This reminds us of Christ's saying: "I am the light of the world". Scenes from the Old Testament adorn the lower part of the icon-screen. We can see from left to right: it can be noticed the original sin with Adam and Eve as well as the snake and the apple. Moreover another figure that can be noticed is the sacrifice of Abraham where Abraham, Isaac and the sheep which takes the child's place.

The fact that reveals a Patriarchic privilege of the church is the two-headed eagle that is painted on the wall across the icon-screen and this one connect the buildings around the church up with the proskynima. This shows that this cluster of buildings was a monastery that used to have its own separate defensive armoring.