Panagia Ekatontapiliani, one of the most important Christian monuments of Greece

In Parikia, the capital of Paros, close to the port, there is the imposing church of Panagia Ekatontapiliani (also known as the Church of 100 doors). It is one of the most important and best preserved Christian churches of Greece.

According to the tradition of Paros, it was built in the middle of the 4th century by St. Helen or by Constantine the Great, who fulfilled his mother’s vow. At the same location there was a chapel, before the 4th century.

Saint Helen had stopped to worship at this chapel, on her way to the Holy Land to find the True Cross. According to the legend, Saint Helen made a vow to the icon of the Virgin Mary that she would build a bigger and more glorious church to her Grace in Paros, if she found the True Cross. Saint Helen fulfilled her vow, however the church was destroyed probably by a fire and it was rebuilt during the reign of Justinian, in the middle of the 6th century.

The name Ekatontapiliani or Katapoliani derives from the term “katapola” and it means “towards the city”, probably because it “points to” the area where the ancient city of Paros was located. The official name of the church today is Ekatontapiliani, which is also associated to a legend: “Katapoliani has ninety nine visible doors. The 100th door is closed and can not be seen. It will appear and it will open when Constantinople becomes Greek again”…

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