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AGIOS DIONYSISI, ‘ST DENNIS’ CHURCH

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st dionisios church in zante town zakynthos

Saint Dennis' Church is one of just a few churches that survived the earthquake of 1953, having been recently been built in 1925.

 

Saint Dennis, as he is known in English, is the Patron Saint of the island of Zakynthos. He was born in Zante in 1546 into the Venetian ruling class – but all reports suggest that from an early age his character was very kind and he refused all of the advantages of his class.

After the death of his parents, at the age of 20 years old, Saint Dennis donated his fortune to his brother and became a monk in the monastery of Strofades, in the south of the island of Zakynthos.

In 1577, Saint Dennis left Zante to become the Archbishop on Aegina island. Two years later health problems forced him to resign and return to his homeland, where he stayed as an abbot in the monastery of the Strofades.

One rainy night, a desperate man came to the monastery and asked for help. This man had just committed a murder. Saint Dennis discovered that this man had killed his own brother. Despite his personal sorrow, the monk provided a shelter to the murderer and even helped him to escape the island, saving his life in order to prevent another crime taking place. Local tradition suggests that the murderer later returned and became a monk in that same monastery.

The monk died in 1622, at the age of 75 and was buried in the church of Agios Georgios in the Strofades, where he was ordained a priest.

Three years later, when he was exhumed, his body was found intact and remains intact still today. The Saint’s body is displayed in the church of Saint Dennis in Zante Town, where many pilgrims come every year to pray.

 

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