Church of Saint Demetrios of Athyto


The temple of Agios Dimitrios is located in the picturesque square of Athitos. It was built in 1859 on the ruins of an early Christian church. It is even mentioned that in Afitos for the erection of the church, the monk Philip of Monastery Simonos Petra helped. It is a triple-shelled basilica with a dome, with built-in bell tower, narthex, female and courtyard. Of particular artistic value is the stone-framed representation of the founders on the south wall of the temple, as well as the stone dove in the bell tower. Chapels of the church are Agios Georgios (1867), the Assumption of Virgin Mary (1855), Agios Athanasios and Agios Nikolaos.

In the church of St. Demetrius are kept two portable icons, the Christ Pantocrator and the Virgin Mary of the Virgin, bearing the names “The Fair Judge” and “The Immortal”. Their detailed examination and analysis showed that they belonged to the despotic iconographic icons of an unknown small temple. Because it is known that the temple of St. Demetrius of Atheth was built in 1821 and rebuilt in 1859, it is certain that the two icons do not come from the church in which they are kept, but probably from a chapel or chapel of the village. We could also assume their possible origin from a monastery in Mount Athos and that they may be a donation for the church’s equipment at the time of its rebuilding. In the real estate of Athethos there were, until 1932, the great and old monasteries of the monasteries of Megisti Lavra and Agios Panteleimonos, with whom the Athetians maintained close relations.

The stylistic features of both images, as well as their apparent resemblance, impose their dating in the first quarter of the 17th century. The pictorial figures of the Christ Enron, frontal and blessing, and Theotokos Imolithos, associated with the Virgin Mary of the Passion, are common in the Byzantine and post-Byzantine art of icons. Between the throne and the foot of Christ, there is the following votive inscription, in black lower letters: what is the mood of the slaves of your slaves, Gabriel, the monks, the victors, and the lace of the devotees, as was clearly seen in diagnostic imaging and image analysis. In these features we add the absolute similarity and similarity with which the painted elegant graphic character of the painter is attributed to both the inscriptions and the signature.

By combining and interpreting the information extracted from X-ray and infrared reflection, the original assumption was confirmed that they are works of the same artist. It is the Danish monk, whose name is repeatedly replied to the painting of the last twenty years and the first of the 17th century. These observations help in extracting the followers, we believe in irrefutable conclusions. The painter Daniel the monk – the third in the series according to M. Hatzidakis’ ranking, whose documented activity extends from about 1587 to 1615, painted in addition to the frescoes and icons of the monastery of Koronis Agraphon and the frescoes attributed to it in the chapels of the monastery of Dionysios, and the icons of both the monastery’s iconographer and those of the temple of St. Demetrios Athitos.

In the central aisle of the church there is the icon of Panagia Afitiotissa (Panagia Odigitria), a work of the 14th century from the workshop of the Chora Monastery in Constantinople. This image was registered by the 10th Ephorate in 1974. After the examination, the picture was found to be completely covered with a later painting layer and had little damage. The cleaning and aesthetic restoration was completed at the Ephorate Rehabilitation Laboratory in 2001. Previously, the technical characteristics of the image were diagnosed at the Diagnostic Center of the Evangelismos Monastery in Ormylia.

The restoration confirmed the wonderful technique of the image and is an example of the hagiographies from the Palaiologos. The Virgin is depicted from the middle and above, with the well-known type of Odigitria, holding the little Christ in her left hand, while her right hand is under the chest as a sign of “Deesis”. Christ blesses with his right hand and holds a handwritten roll on the left. Considering that the church of the village of Agios Dimitrios of Athitos was burned down during the great destruction of Chalkidiki in 1821 and re-established in 1859, it could be assumed that the icon was offered to the newly built temple by a monastery that had a stake in the area, the Megisti Lavra or Agios Panteleimonas.