Orthodox and Catholic traditions

The folkloric and cultural wealth of Tinos has the special characteristic of being derived from both the Orthodox and Catholic traditions, as the island has always had a significant number of inhabitants espousing the western fait.

A point Tinians hold in common, both Orthodox and Catholic, is their deep religious fait and their love of the Virgin Mary in particular.

The entire island, even the most remote and difficult to reach places, are dotted with churches and chapels which constitute an inseparable part of the picturesque ness of the Tinian landscape. In 1974 there were 514 Orthodox churches and country chapels and 210 Catholic. It is certain there are more than 750 today of which about 220 are Catholic. 83 Orthodox and 43 Catholic churches are dedicated to the Virgin Mary, while the rest cover a broad spectrum of the Christian feast-day calendar.
The cathedrals, the side-chapels and the country chapels are noteworthy historical, ecclesiastical and architectural monuments of the past which have not been systematically studied. They make up the true folkloric, artistic treasure-trove of the island not found elsewhere in Greece, the preservation of which requires continuous effort and large expenditures which are mainly born by the devout inhabitance.
The churches in Tinos are single, double and triple –aisled and the particular aesthetic pleasure derived from their exterior facades is due to the bell-towers. There is no uniform type of bell -tower on the island churches and there are great number of varieties and forms. They are, as a rule, the creations of the anonymous Tinian folk craftsman.
The numerous Orthodox churches in the town and the villages are decorated with marvellous works of ecclesiastical folk art, such as carved marble or wooden iconostases, prelatical vestments, shrines and icons.
The approximately 220 Catholic churches have beautiful statues as well as wonderful icons, in eastern and western style. In these churches, many of the icons are works of well-known painters who came from the West (principally Italy) and are of great artistic worth.
The erection of so many churches was due to both the deep religious piety of the Tinians and the peculiar historical and religious conditions of the place (the long Venetian occupation, a Turkish occupation with many privileges).
Both the Orthodox and the Catholics have up to the present piously devotedly retained the tradition of the festival on the church’s feast-day. There is not the smallest church, even the most remote one that will not have celebration.

But the largest festivals are usually during the celebration of the parish churches in the villages. The church as well as entire village then gleams with cleanliness, while the inhabitants vie as to who will entertain the visitors at their home where a groaning table awaits them.

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