Holy Mary of Filoti
ΩIt is a known fact that during the Turkish occupation the building of churches was not forbidden.
The issue was settled in the early days of the conquering. Thus, according to the “verati” (“Berat”: decree of granting rights or privileges) of Mehmed the
Conqueror, the only thing that was forbidden was the erection of “kambanaria” [plural of “kambanario”, meaning “bell tower”], and the church bell ringing.
In the case of the “Holy Mary of Filoti”, however, something urepeatable happened: in the permit for the building of the church –and contrary to Muhammad’s “berati”—the building of a “kambanario” (bell tower) is allowed, with the signature of the Sultan himself.
And how something like that came about?
The story starts around 1690, on Saint George’s Day, when, in the area of “Kalandos”, a great sea storm was raging, and the waves threatened to wreck a ship that was struggling with them, being in imminent danger of crushing against the rocks, which eventually happened.
A shepherd from Filoti, named Georgios Psaras or Loumbas (loumbas: a person who sets up “loumbes”, pit like traps), was watching this struggle of the ship with the waves unable to intervene.
The ship was Turkish, and only ten persons from the ship survived, among them a 12year old boy. When the adult castaways were to depart, Loumbas requested and succeeded to keep the boy until his full recovery.
On the next day, he went with the boy to Filoti, so that his wife could look after the boy. To her objections relating to the Turkish origin of the boy, Loumbas answered with the proverb: “do the good and throw it in the yard” (“on the shore” in the Greek proverb)”.
The boy learned Greek and was baptized Georgios, in remembrance of the day of the shipwreck.
Some day came to Filoti the voivode (a “military-leader” or “warlord” in Central, Southern and Eastern Europe since the Early Middle Ages) of Naxos in search of the young shipwreck Georgios – Hussein, after an order he received from Constantinople (often referred to as the “Poli” – the City, because of its dominating uniqueness at the times).
In 1710, the Dimogerontes (the “council of the elderly”), amongst them Loumbas, decided to build a bigger church, because the needs of the village had increased.
The spot they chose was “Lahanario”, which was in the center of the village, but was owned by the feudal lord Barotsi, who refused to grant the land.
So, the Filotites, Loumbas being a protagonist, decided to act unilaterally and started the building of the church. The Feudal Lord resorted to the voivode, but he did not obtain a decision in his favor.
The case ended up in a court of Constantinople, where, by some rare coincidence, the judge for Loumbas case was his stepson Georgios-Hussein.
They recognized each other, and, naturally, a decision in favor of Loumbas was a fact.
Georgios-Hussein hosted Loumbas for a month, and, when he left, he had in his hands the following decree:
• With the florins (gold coins) build the church with a big “kambanario” (bell tower)
• With this decree take as much land as you like
• With your “koumbouri” (handgun of the times), do some ceremonial shooting when you arrive at Naxos
• If a Turk ever harasses you, show him this decree.
This is how the big church of the “Holy Mary” that the Filotites are proud of until our days, was built.
On the marble bell tower of the church, Loumbas figure is engraved as well as the phrase “do the good and throw it on the shore”.