|Orthodox Outlet for Dogmatic Enquiries||Mission|
The snack parlor with a …...Church inside
By Emel ARMUTÇU
In the town of Mode, the restaurant “Park” which is otherwise also known as “Kotso’s joint”, has since 1930 been operating with a tiny Greek church wedged in its interior. The Holy Water spring of Saint Catherine that was discovered in 1924 by local Greek fishermen is a functioning church. However, in order to actually enter the church, one must necessarily pass through the tavern!
In the year 294 A.D., in the city of Alexandria, a daughter was born to an aristocratic and idolatrous family. She was given the name Dorothea. She studied at the state schools of her time; philosophy, rhetoric, poetry, music, mathematics, astronomy and medicine. Her incomparable natural beauty, her amazing education, her aristocratic descent and the virtues with which she was adorned, made her a much sought-after bride. However, she refused every such proposal, until a certain Monk acquainted her with the true Bridegroom of souls: Jesus Christ. She was baptized, and given the name Ekaterini, which, according to one interpretation signifies “the crowned one” or “the one of many crowns”.
During the persecution era of the Emperor Diocletian at the beginning of the 4th century A.D., she confessed her faith in Jesus Christ and publicly accused the Emperor for his sacrificing to idols. He summoned fifty orators from all over the empire, instructing them to dissuade her from her belief; instead, she convinced them, with the maxims of the ancient Hellene philosophers, on everything relative to the true God, and they ended up believing in Jesus Christ. After this, the Saint was subjected to cruel tortures, but instead of her morale buckling under the pressure, she actually succeeded with her godly example in attracting the emperor’s wife to the Christian faith, as well as other members of the royal court.
According to tradition,
after she was beheaded, angels took away her decapitated
body and transferred it to the highest pinnacle of Mount
Sinai, which now also bears her name.
1924. Constantinople, Mode. Local Greek fishermen spot a rock from which flowed fresh water, and they understood this was a fount of holy water. According to tradition, at the spot where the water flowed there were the foundations of an old church, together with an icon of Saint Catherine. Atop this rock, a small wooden edifice was raised, and the tiny Greek church – or, more correctly, the holy water fount – was named the Holy Fount of Saint Catherine.
The edifice that exists atop the Holy Fount, right next to the pier at Mode, was demolished in 1933-35, to be eventually replaced by a restaurant. However, the Holy Fount was protected and in 1950 it was repaired. The building that now lies above the Holy Fount began to operate for the first time by Constantine Kotsos Korontos, with the name “Restaurant Park Mode” and was an open-air establishment. Even to this day, it is known by Kotsos’ name. It is as famous as its owner. In the region of Muhar, the restaurant owner Kotsos was well-known, because on certain days, he served meals without accepting money.
The only one of its kind in the world
There are many churches and Holy Founts dedicated to Saint Catherine, throughout the world. However, in Turkey there is only the Holy Fount of Saint Catherine on the Mode promontory. But its special characteristic – which makes it unique, not only in Turkey but in all the world – is that it is located inside a ….snack parlor! Its true – in order to enter this tiny Greek temple to light a candle, and to hear the priest’s supplications, one has to first cross this dining area. And vice-versa, if someone wishes to sit at the tables in the garden of the tavern, they have to pass through the temple of the Holy Fount…
When you enter the Park restaurant in Mode, you can enjoy a view of the sea from every corner and you can sit by the vast windows. You can exit through another door, into the garden. As you pass through, to your right, and down a few steps, you will find yourself at the Holy Fount.
You can enter the miniature temple of Saint Catherine, through an iron door. You descend two cement steps, then a few steps more to your right, and on the wall opposite the door, you will see a silver icon of Saint Catherine.
It was this tiny, one-room church that Kotsos’ customers from Mode used to visit. Now, it is no longer visited exclusively by Greeks from Mode, or only by Christians, but also by many people from various parts of Constantinople, who belong to miscellaneous dogmas and religions – even Muslims visit Saint Catherine. And all of them say “Amen” to the supplications of the priest of the Metropolis who officiates there every Sunday. They all light candles and pray.
Raki drink, myrrh and hymns
Should you visit the Holy Fount during morning hours, when passing through the establishment’s central area you will see Kotsos’ employees peeling onions, potatoes and cleaning fish. Albeit accustomed to visitors, they will not pay any attention to you. You can continue to walk through, and soon find yourself inside the Holy Fount. Despite its minuscule size, it has everything that will make you feel you are inside a church…
Should you visit the snack parlor during evening hours, you might even catch the fragrance of the myrrh wafting towards you from within the church. You will hear ecclesiastic hymns echoing in your ears, and the silhouette of a beautiful, faithful daughter might pass you by, and make you bring Saint Catherine to mind...
If you have read this
article through to the end, you will have realized how
awkward it must appear, for a snack parlor, a church and
a Saint who gave her name to the place, to all co-exist
in the one, same article. You will probably think to
yourself that it is a futile endeavor to do so, and will
understand how I feel…
Translation (from the Greek article by A. A.) by K. N.
Article published in English on: 14-5-2008.
Last update: 14-5-2008.