Hagios Kepia

photo 2 (12)There is a tiny shop in Larnaca that, from the street, looks like a cross between conceptual art and a pottery studio. Once inside, you realize those brownish babies and body parts are candles.

Charming (kind, articulate, handsome) Andreas makes the candles and runs the shop when he is not minding a realty office a few doors down. Andreas explained the candles are used as part of a traditional practice in the Greek Orthodox church. The body parts correspond to places of disease or physical vulnerability and are lit at the church as an offering. If you have migraines, you light a head candle. If you are pregnant, you light a baby candle.

In addition to the body part candles, Andreas makes a lot of beeswax tapers for churches in Cyprus and beyond.  Andreas recently sent more than 1000 pounds of tapers to the Greek Orthodox Church in Cambridge, England.

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Andreas took over the business from his grandfather when, at 95, he hurt his back on the cobblestone street in front of his shop. Grandpa is ok now but taking a break from the business and proud that his grandson will carry on the tradition.

After talking to Andreus, I went to Larnaca’s iconic St. Lazarus church to see the candles in action.

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This head candle and the large tapers behind it are in the church’s underground tomb where Lazarus is buried. (Lazarus rose from the dead and then spent 30 years afterward spreading Jesus’ message)

This was my favorite discovery in Larnaca — a story that connects two generations with local church traditions, people with faith in the power of metaphor,  and an earthy art form that makes light.

6 comments

  1. I love getting your posts, Kim. I read them immediately and love your perspectives on the people in the places you have chosen to visit. The photos are always unique. Not knowing where you will journey next, I am always delighted to see notice in my email of a new post on Camino Milagro.

  2. Kim, I was raised in the Greek Orthodox church and never knew they used body part candles as offerings. Your photos of the candles are lovely too as are your posts. I really enjoy them & feel as if I am able to travel vicariously to unexpected places!

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