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      April 2012 > St Onuphrius... who?

St Onuphrius... who?

Walking in Corfu, St OnuphriusThree weeks ago, I had never heard of St Onuphrius. (“Who?” I hear you cry!) Well, that’s exactly what I thought before a recent trip to the Greek Islands, where I was researching new routes for our walking holiday in Greece, along Corfu’s West Coast.

One of the walks passes a small secluded monastery (below) dedicated to St Onuphrius – and I was intrigued and determined to discover more about this hitherto unknown (to me) saint when I got home.

However, I first decided to look into the iconic imagery that surrounds St George – it’s St George’s Day on 23 April. Having been to explore the Two Faces of Cappadocia in central Turkey a couple of years ago, I remembered that there were a number of religious wall paintings in the cave churches of Göreme’s remarkable open-air museum.

The Snake, or Yilanli, Church depicts the warrior-saint, St George fighting against evil forces in the form of a large serpent – and who should be staring back at him from the opposite wall – yes, you’ve guessed it – none other than St Onuphrius (right). Now that’s what I call a coincidence.

Little is known about this reclusive holy man. Onuphrius, (or Humphrey as he is sometimes called in England), was a 4th-century monk who became a hermit, spending 70 years in the deserts of Egypt, wearing nothing but a loincloth of leaves. Indeed, during the mediaeval period, Saint Onuphrius was depicted as a wild man, completely covered with hair, wearing a woven girdle of leaves, and for this reason, he became the patron saint of weavers. So, if you are on a walking holiday in Corfu and your itinerary coincides with his Saint’s Day, 12 June, you will witness this small monastery bursting into life (it's no longer lived in) with a colourful religious procession and traditional Corfiot festivities.

Such traditional religious festivals are a normal part of everyday life on Corfu – as in many other places, too – and your attendance and participation in the service on the day will add to the feeling of being more than just a visitor or tourist. What’s more you’ll never forget who St Onuphrius is...

Walking in Corfu, St Onuphrius monastery, Corfu

Posted: 03/04/2012 11:19:43 by | with 1 comments
Filed under: festivals, Greece, heritage, Turkey

I've been told that Saint Onuphrius was a hermaphrodite. I've been trying to find more information about this but it's tricky.

Inntravel: can't help you there I'm afraid. As you say, information is pretty scarce.
19/05/2015 19:04:33

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