"Though a small village, Karitsa has six churches"

Though small, Karitsa has six churches, four of which are country chapels outside the village proper.  It has the patron saint of the village, Evangelistria beside the square, Agios Kostandinos next to the cemetery, and the four tiny country chapels: Agios Yannis near the summit of Mount Elatias, Agios Nikolas below the village, Agia Kiriaki close to Plati Pigadi and Agios Dimitris at Sternitsa.

The Patron Saint Evangelistria
Present day patron saint Evangelistria (Our Lady of the Annunciation) is the largest and main church of the village.  Its towering structure, its Byzantine crosswise style, its walls and dome above the red-tiled roof dominate Dothe Gitonia.

According to the foundation stone building of the church began in 1892.  The church was built entirely of local materials.  Stone was quarried from the rocky outcrops around Toundeiko Roumani and the marble was excavated from Sfondami, a particularly steep area on the slopes of Tsouka.

Quarrying and transportation of the marble was carried out by "prosopiki ergasia" (required community work) imposed by the village council on all villagers.  This was particularly tiring on the village, more so because work animals, mules and donkeys, could not cross the steep and rugged slopes of Tsouka.  Hence the marble was carried by the men of the village on "xilogaidares" (wooden donkeys).  These were simple improvised wooden trays on which the marble was carried.  Each tray was carried by two or four men depending on the weight of the load.

Locals remember the marble was worked on by skilled marble workers from the island of Tinos.  The impressive church altar, also made of marble, is part of their artistic creation.  It took nearly 30 years for the church to be built because the work was locally funded.  This surely shows the wretched poverty of the time.  The church was finally consecrated around 1920 by the priest of the village Dimitris Hronis, who was affectionately known as papa-Hronis.  Since that time Evangelistria has been the patron saint and main church of Karitsa.

Papa-Hronis was born in 1842 , just 17 years after liberation.  He was ordained when he was 30 years old in 1872 and died in his 85th year in 1927.  For two or three years after his death the village was left without a priest and Evangelistria came under the jurisdiction of the parish of Mari which made its priest available "now and then" as old timers recall.  A local parishioner, Anastasis Malavazos, was ordained around 1930 and served the church until his death as a 67 year old in 1964.  Both priests of Karitsa, known as papa-Hronis and papa-Anastasis, were buried according to tradition behind the church sanctuary of Evangelistria.  Since 1964 priests from neighbouring parishes service Evangelistria.  papa-Nikos Hiotis from Alepohori came until 1974 and papa-Vangelis Maltezos from Kalithea came until his death in 1996.

Agios Kostandinos
Just above Vraho tou Bey, between Toundeiko Roumani and the cemetery, the chapel of Agios Kostandinos looks over Evangelistria.  This tiny chapel for many years, until around 1920, was the main church of the village.  It is thought that it was consecrated in 1861 but an inscription above the entrance is indistinguishable and the digits not easily read, so we cannot be certain.

In the years following the establishment of Evangelistria as patron saint of the village, the chapel of Agios Kostandinos deteriorated to the extent that the slate-covered-roof threatened to collapse.  Fortunately in the early sixties papa-Anastasis took the initiative to mend the tiny chapel replacing the slate with a new concrete roof, plastering the inner walls and rendering the outside.  In 1992 an Australian Karitsioti, Yannis Tsolomitis, layered the yard of Agios Kostandinos with concrete.

According to local folklore in earlier days on this site stood another church, Agia Paraskevi, which was the first patron saint of the village.  Sometime in the 1800s that church was completely gutted by fire but when it was rebuilt, for some unknown reason it was renamed Agios Kostandinos.  Some disquiet at times is still expressed about that change. 

Agios Kostandinos is solemnised on 21 May.  On that day mass is held at the chapel in the morning and a village festival at the kafenio in the evening.

Agios Yannis
From some 200 metres below the summit of Elatias the chapel of Agios Yannis looks out over Karitsa.  According to an inscription on a stone above the chapel sanctuary "construction was funded by H Malavazos in 1869".  Another inscription above the entrance refers to 1899.  Perhaps the chapel on top of the mountain was renovated in that year.  Agios Yannis or "Ayianniou" is celebrated on 29 August.  The village festival of the year, a two-day affair, is held on the eve of Ayianniou and on the day itself.  Many Karitsiotes from other parts of Greece as well as from overseas are keen to be in the village for the festival.  On the morning of 29 August most villagers will trek their way up the slopes of Elatias for mass at Agios Yannis and then come down to continue the festival in the village square during the afternoon, evening and early hours of the following morning.

Agios Nikolas
This beautiful little church is found on the main road, just when it is about to begin its steep winding climb on the way to the village.  An inscription above the entrance indicates the chapel was consecrated or renovated in 1896.  Interestingly in 1956, when the area was been dug up to build a motor road, many human bones were uncovered close to this tiny church.  Villagers believe this marks the site of an old cemetery, very likely when the village was sited at Agios Thanasis.  The sides of the graves are built from local slate in a similar way to that attributed to very olden days.  Mass is held in this chapel only once a year on December 5.

Agia Kiriaki
Agia Kiriaki is built close to the very old water well, Plati Pigadi.  It is celebrated on 7 July when many worshipers come down from the village for mass.  This is followed by a village festival in the afternoon and evening.

Agios Dimitris
Agios Dimitris, a very tiny chapel, is found near the ruins of the old settlement and the ancient water-pit (sterna) in Sternitsa.  It was built by the mother of papa-Anastasi in memory of the ruined chapel, Agios Dimitris, at the old settlement of Sternitsa.  It is celebrated on 26 October.

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