Sacred Sites on the Greek Island of Samos

by Melinda Marton

Temple of Hera - the HeraionI love the rich, spiritual feeling of this ancient land and spent my last summer holiday in Pythagoreion on the beautiful island of Samos. There is so much to see here, I didn’t spend much time lying on the beach!

First stop was the local museum, which is a beautiful new building in the middle of the town.  It’s placed next to the ancient city and has current archaeological excavations right next door.

The Samos museum mentions all the following as local to the island:

  • The main sanctuary of the patron goddess of the island (sanctuary of  Hera, at the mouth of the river Ibravos)
  • Patron God of the city, Dionysos
  • Temple of Aphrodite – lies beneath the foundation of an old house
  • On the heights of the city, sanctuaries of the Mother Goddess, Cybele
  • Sanctuary of Demeter at the edge of the city, high on an isolated hill, as appropriate to mystery cults
  • Artemis, Dionysus and Apollo cults
  • A cult of Nymphs
  • Inscriptions of Hygeia
  • Temple of Isis with large, lavishly adorned altar in the south of the small square to the right of Lykourgos Logothetes street which leads to the harbour

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Black Madonnas

by Mary Frankland

CybeleThese statues or paintings are usually described by the Roman Catholic authorities as images of the Blessed Virgin Mary depicted with a dark or black skin.

St Bernard of Clairvaux was a great devotee of the Mother of Jesus, and he wrote numerous hymns and sermons which he dedicated to her. He also wrote several sermons on the theme of the Song of Songs in which the Bride sings “I am black but beautiful, O daughters of Jerusalem." It is also possible that several Black Madonnas were originally images of the Goddess.

In his book, Cult of the Black Virgin, Ean Begg notes that in the early 1980s, “a pagan Black Virgin made according to ancient rites was venerated in the course of Druidic ceremonies at St Georges Nigremont.” I hope to present more evidence for the transition of these figures to Christian veneration during the course of this article.

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