The tradition of the “Flying Priest” from the Greek island of Chios has now spread in many parts of Greece and Cyprus, as part of the First Resurrection liturgy of Holy Saturday.
What has now become a permanent tradition attracting viewers from across Greece on television and social media, the trend began on Chios years ago, when father Christoforos Gourlis began this peculiar yet beloved tradition.
Father Christoforos became nation-wide known for the theatrical way he came hopping out of the sanctuary, in order to announce the first resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The church was used to be “shaken” by the ringing of the bells marking the victory of the divine over death, while the clergyman nicknamed “The flying priest” for his joyful antics, threw handfuls of bay leaves over the faithful.
This tradition has now been imitated by many other churches in Greece and Cyprus.
On Saturday, May 1, father Heracledios Xiouros from Cyprus did exactly that: Spread the message of Jesus’ victory against death by ”flying” in the church of Saint George in the city of Paralimni of the Famagusta region in Cyprus.
The same happened in a church in central Greece.
Father Dimitrios Kyritsis from the city of Trikala in Thessaly did the same moves by spreading the joyous message of Jesus’ first resurrection, while the chandeliers were being made to move and the bells rang joyfully.
Flying priest from Chios had been arrested in 2020 for curfew violations
Father Christoforos had been detained on Holy Saturday of 2020, accused of failing to abide by the restrictions imposed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Greek Orthodox priest was detained by local police on Chios for conducting the service with the gates of the church wide open, something that was forbidden back then.
The incident had taken place at the Panagia Evangelistria shrine on Chios island.
According to the restrictive measures imposed by the Greek state in 2020, all churches should conduct their liturgies behind closed doors, with no members of the public attending whatsoever. However, this year, a small number of people will be able to attend services, provided that they keep social distancing measures in place and wear double face masks.
In addition to father Christoforos’ arrest last year, a woman had attempted to enter the church where the priest was conducting the liturgy. Thus, men from the local police department of the island prohibited her entry.
This had sparked a violent reaction on behalf of the woman, who even tried to assault one of the police officers, causing havoc in what had already been a peculiar Holy Saturday.
Greece, along with the rest of the Orthodox Christian world, celebrates Easter on Sunday, in the midst of the third -and deadly- wave of the pandemic, with the entire population having to obey strict curfew rules.