|St. Nicholas Church - Svoronata, Kefalonia|
Many a times in my photographic adventures or “missions” to record the island’s attractions for work-related projects, I’ve found myself filling memory cards with hundreds of images of these undeniably photogenic elements. But not without some degree of guilt. I always felt that I cheated myself and my readers as I was only capturing the obvious. That’s when I began to see rather than look, and it must have been in the Church of St. Nicholas* in Svoronata. It is a huge cathedral with one of the tallest bell towers in Kefalonia, an interior of grandiose, a mezzanine and embellished decoration from front to back and top to bottom. One could spend hours here gazing at and photographing the numerous objects and forms of ecclesiastic art. Having done so and turning to leave, I noticed an unpretentious composition, sitting in the middle of the floor, that seemed out of place in this showcase church of elegance, ornamentation and artistic excess.
On second thought, maybe it was the only thing that was in the right place…
A battered wooden bench, not a fancy hand-carved stool, serving as a resting hub for a makeshift oil candle which defiantly claimed its place among the exquisite chandeliers and bronze candle holders. A simple household glass, not a tiffany or crystal utensil, held the olive oil, an aromatic beeswax candle -used to reach and light the wick - rested on the side, both atop a simple – though a bit inappropriate in design – serving tray so as to protect the old bench from possible oil stains! And this simple but genuinely beautiful composition competed on an equal basis with the geometric pattern of the traditional floor tiles.
Indeed, this is by far my favorite and most memorable image of this Kefalonian attraction and one that alleviates my guilt for overly showcasing the obvious.
But habits are hard to break, so here’s the rest of that obvious…
*note: According to Greek Orthodox tradition, St. Nicholas is the patron of seamen. Folklore abounds with accounts of seamen being pulled out and saved from shipwrecks by the Saint. This belief is clearly depicted in the iconography of any church dedicated to him. Seamen who leave for the faraway seas and those who attribute their safe return to the Saint, often dedicate items in gratitude. Aside from icons, popular dedications include replicas of ships. Some of these replicas are intricate and beautiful works of art, such as the ship replica on the left bottom of the image composition.