The iconographic decoration

The pictorial decoration inside Orthodox churches follows, with minor variations, a specific iconographic programme. It is associated with the symbolism of each space, while at the same time it promotes the principles of the Orthodox creed. Thus in the dome, which is the highest point of the church, we find the depiction of Christ as the Lord of the world, surrounded by the persons that participate in the divine liturgy. In the apse of the sanctuary we usually find a depiction of Virgin Mary, symbolizing a bridge between heaven and Earth. The remaining area of the sanctuary is occupied by depictions of the Hierarchs, and well as of the society of the Apostles. In the nave, the pictorial decoration is divided into three zones, with the first two expressing the Divine Incarnation. The upper zone includes scenes of the most important events of Christ's life, such as Nativity and Resurrection, while the middle one depicts the parables and His miracles. In the third and lowest zone, which is found closest to believers, saints are depicted as tangible examples for Christians to imitate.

The iconographic programme of the church

The impressive frescoes of the church in which we are standing, date back to 1779 and are the result of the work of the artist Gregorios Symaios, as an inscription found in the building informs us, but also of the smart and delicate manipulations of the church committee member Georgios Charistakis. The latter according to oral tradition, despite the prohibitions of the then Ottoman empire, managed to diplomatically wrest permission from the General Turkish Commander Hasan Kapetan of the island for the church walls to be decorated with frescoes.

The rich iconographic decoration of the Church is preserved in good condition and it generally follows the standard iconographic programme of Orthodox churches.

Second Advent & the sea

In the northwestern part of the arch we can see a scene from the second advent, the theme of which is developed on the western wall. The sea, in the form of a woman coming out of the mouth of a fish, does not just give back its dead people, but also the sunken ship. This iconographic elements are extremely rare in this depiction of the Day of Judgement. The painter seems to have been inspired by Lindos itself, which at the time had intense maritime activity, thereby creating a different version of the resurrection of the dead.

Saint Christopher, the 'Kynokefalos' (the dog-head)

In the zone of Saints, we can notice a strange form with a human body and a dog's head. This is the great martyr Saint Christopher, who lived and became a martyr in the reign of Emperor Dekios (249-251 A.D.). His paradoxical depiction can be probably attributed to the nickname 'kynokefalos' (the dog-head) he had, which some associate with his physical ugliness, while others trace its origin in his descent from the Marmarites tribe of North Africa, who were considered man-eaters. However, some argue that this nickname is related to the symbol of the military regiment in which Saint Christopher belonged before he was baptized a Christian. These views, as well as other ones affected Orthodox painting, which wanted to promote through this iconographic type the equality of human beings regardless of their appearance in the Kingdom of heaven. In a different version of his depiction, Saint Christopher appears bearing the face of Christ, as a sign of the Divine Grace he received.

A similar case of a dog-faced saint can be found in medieval religious paintings of the west, with Saint Guineffer. There however, we have the depiction of a dog which was canonized and not a man who is depicted with a dog's head, as is Saint Christopher.

The good Samaritan

The parable of the good Samaritan is especially known from the Gospel writings of the Apostle Luke. According to them, a Jew who was descending from Jerusalem to Jericho on foot fell into an ambush of bandits who attacked him and left him half-dead. This man, while he had been essentially abandoned by the exponents of the Jewish religion, was ultimately saved by a Samaritan who belonged to a foreign nation.

Contrary to its customary depictions, the parable is here recounted in two separate scenes. The central one focuses on the care the injured Jew received from the compassionate Samaritan, who is in this case depicted exceptionally in the iconographic type of Christ. Another rarity is the presence of John the Baptist and Moses in the setting, who are seen as spectators of the events.

In a slightly less visible point to the left of this mural, the first part of the parable is depicted, recounting the attack on the Jew. The artist here, using iconographic elements from his era, brings the parable to his time, thus showcasing the timeless meaning of the Gospel.