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Photographer's Note

At the church of Our Lady Of the Castle, a little while before sunset. The church doors open to the west and let the wonderful warm light grace the interior.
This picture was taken at the end of May. The background: The ladies who take care of the church had kept it open a little longer and had prepared a treat for some special foreign guests.

From http://www.leros.org.uk/tradition.html

The festival of the Virgin Mary ( 15th August )
The Panagia tou Kastrou [Our Lady of the Castle] has always been a religious and spiritual centre point for Leros during the long march through the centuries of history, and so every 15th August crowds of people climb up to pay their respects to the Panagia. For the Lerian emigrants, it is a vow that wherever they may be, they will come to Leros on that day to climb up and light a candle. The day before the festival, on the 14th August, many locals and visitors climb up the stairs of the castle in the early evening, with religious devoutness. The steps that lead up to the Panagia start from the square in Platanos. The square is always full of pilgrims on this day. The climbing of the steps is easy for the young and difficult for the older people. A vow is a vow however. Many stop short of the church, either to catch their breath or to admire the view. At the evening service on that day, the eulogies are chanted, and there is a reconstructed funeral procession (epitafios) for the Panagia.

There is blessing and honour for whoever carries this epitafio even if only for a while. It is after the pilgrimage that the festival begins. In the past the celebrations took place in the square of Platanos, but nowadays the music and the dancing take place among groups of friends in their houses, restaurants, the beaches and everywhere on the night of 14th August. Island songs can be heard from all directions.

Thank you for visiting,
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Additional Photos by Ourania Karali (ourania) Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 4869 W: 13 N: 10027] (51103)
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