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Between Dreams and Traces

Memory, Temporality, and the Production of Sainthood in Lesbos

Séverine Rey

Keywords: Asia Minor refugees; commemoration; dreams; Greece; Lesbos; sainthood; Turkey


The monastery of Agios Rafaïl, built in the 1960s on the northern Aegean island of Lesbos, commemorates the ‘newly appeared’ Saints Rafaïl, Nikolaos, and Irini. Their ‘apparition’ is marked by different forms of memory and commemoration: first, the juxtaposition of their trajectories with Asia Minor refugees visited by dreams, the main agents of the discovery of these saints; second, the local Bishopric’s search for people who could be canonized as saints as a result of their heroism during the Ottoman occupation of the island. Temporalities of varying dimensions are interwoven within these discourses, as the past intervenes in the present and marks the continuity of destinies and of sacred places. The future (or its promise) is equally tied to these events under the form of hidden treasures.

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