SYROS, GREECE

COVID - 19 AND FAITH IN GOD

 On the Greek island of Syros, 6 months after the state forced Churches to shut to prevent the spread of COVID - 19, I photographed one of the first returning services at the Sacred Temple of Assumption. 

 

In the midst of the global pandemic, the close up portraits and brief captions aim to bring to life the timeless debate of science vs faith.  For months, the Greek state and the Greek Orthodox Church have clashed about the handling of Coronavirus exacerbating the deep rooted tensions between both establishments begging the question, will the virus be the beginning to an ugly holy divorce? 

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Father Kostadinos has led the services at the Sacred Temple of Assumption, on the Greek island of Syro for over 50 years. In mid - March, the state forced Churches in Greece to shut their doors in order to prevent the spread of the virus. Nearly 6 months later Greece has seen over 10,000 cases of coronavirus and more than 257 deaths. Father Kostadinos said: 

 

 “I respect science and logic, but God is bigger than both. If you have faith, God and the holiness of the Church will protect you.” 

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Although the Sacred Temple of Assumption does not force the use of masks, most that entered chose to use the protection. Above, churchgoers are blessed by the priest and as part of the Greek Orthodox tradition bow to him and God.

 

Tasoula (below) believes God is punishing humans with coronavirus for the things he has seen us do to our world. She is praying that

 

“he will forgive us for our sins”

Before entering the Church, Dimitra (above) puts on her mask. Due to her age, she worries about catching Coronavirus and says she,

 

“hopes God will put an end to this misery. It is a terrible time for humanity.”

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As well as the sharing of the spoon during communion, the custom of kissing religious icons in Church has sparked debate between health officials and the Greek Orthodox Church about the increased risk of spreading the virus. Many still continue the tradition. After kissing the religious icon, many churchgoers make the sign of the cross and bow as a form of reverence to the Saints.

In the Greek Orthodox Church it is customary to light a candle to symbolise the light of Christ and pray for one’s needs whether personal or for the world. For many, lighting a candle is a sign of hope and faith in God to help those who pray and believe in him and his Saints.

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