Throughout history, despite changing religions and civilizations, the sanctity of locations are preserved and adapted. The Hagia Sophia began as a Christian Basilica during the Byzantine Period, only to become a mosque during the Ottoman period. Churches were built on the sites of pagan temples. One pagan god replaced another at the same sanctuary. Perhaps it is that these people sought to use the preexisting architecture to their advantage. Or maybe it is that humans, despite their different cultures, languages, and religions recognize that specific locations are just sacred in nature.
Last Friday, CYA traveled to the region of Phocis in Central Greece for a two day field trip to Delphi. Our first stop, was not at Delphi, but at the Monastery of Saint Luke. Here we were able to see Middle Byzantine architecture and mosaics, as well as the reliquary body of Saint Luke himself. The Monastery of Saint Luke would be a sight to see on its own, solely for the glimpse it provides into the Byzantine Empire, but the story behind Saint Luke is the particularly captivating part.
|St. Luke the Younger|
St. Luke was known particularly for his ability to prophesize events, both within his own life and of the empire. St. Luke predicted his own death as well as the creation of a monastery at the place of his death. More impressively, St. Luke prophesized for the Byzantine Emperor, telling of the invasion of the Bulgarian Emperor and the successful reconquest of Crete by the Byzantines. Many saints were able to foretell events within their own life, but contemporaries of St. Luke truly believed that God was speaking to the empire through him. St. Luke served as the mouth piece of God for the Byzantine Empire in a region known particularly for its prophecies. Despite being vastly different gods, this region of Phocis serves to house the voice of god.
From the eighth century B.C. to the fifth century C.E. Delphi was the site of a Temple to Apollo. Emissaries from all over the known world would journey to Delphi in order to receive a prophecy from the god, Apollo. The Pythia, was a post-menstrual woman who received the voice of the god and relayed that prophecy to inquisitive mortals. The Pythia prophesized the collapse of empires and the ascension of emperors, relayed strategies for success, dispensed wisdom from the god. In this craggy region that the Greeks believed to be the center of the world, the god Apollo spoke to mortals, giving them glimpses of the future.
|Temple of Apollo: The Seat of the Delphic Oracle|