Church of Osios Ioannis the Russian

Perhaps one of the most famous churches throughout the region is this chapel in the village of Prokopi in Asia Minor. Built in 1951, in honours a simple Christian man, Ioannis, who after fighting against the Turks in his native Russia, was captured, made a slave, and taken to his owner’s estate in Evia.

Despite pressure and humiliation from Turkish leaders, Ioannis refused to convert to Islam, and his saintly behaviour convinced his master to allow him to practice his religion freely. However, following an illness, Ioannis passed away when he was forty years old and his body was buried by fellow Christians and placed in a marble tomb in 1730. According to legend, Turkish soldiers raided the church in 1832 and stole whatever was of value from inside.

When they opened the marble tomb holding the remains of the saint, they found nothing apart from bones, and decided to burn them along with everything else deemed worthless. The bones however, remained untouched, which frightened the soldiers into placing his remains back into the marble tomb. Word spread of this miraculous event, and the site became known as a centre for healing which saw thousands from all sorts of faith visiting in hopes of being cured of their ailments.

Today there is a temple honouring Ioannis the Russian in central Cappadocia. His remains were taken by Christian refugees during the great population exchange of 1924 who settled in the small village known today as Prokopi. A large church was built in his honour in 1951 and today remains a highly visited site among Orthodox Christians as well as a frequent meeting place of Orthodox leaders and clergy.



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