At an idyllic landscape within the city, in the vicinity of the Temple of Olympian Zeus, at the only place still remaining from the valley of the river Ilissos, is the church of Agia Foteini. It has been erected exactly next to the riverbed, which nowadays is still visible but without water, next to the bustling Kallirois street. The location was sacred already from the antiquity, since here was a temple of Hecate. During the Turkish occupation a Christian church stood here, which must have been largely destroyed in the revolution in 1821, while in the 1830s the cemetery of the Bavarian soldiers was in this area. The church of Agia Foteini was reconstructed in 1872 and a little later became a parish church. During the 1980s it suffered damages from a small landslide and it was renovated by the Ministry of Culture, while all the expenses were covered by the Municipality of Athens.
The church belongs to the type of simple basilica with timber saddleback roof. Before its renovation in the 1980s it had a different form, because its stone walls had been covered by whitewash to be preserved. In its interior there are murals dating from the 18th and the 19th century, while additional decorative works were carried out in the period 1986-1992. The wooden-carved screen of the church was made in 1986 and is a replica of the screen of the church of Agios Nektarios in Aegina. From the older decoration of the church the portable icons of Agia Foteini, Agios Eleftherios and Archangel Michael stand out.
The church is dedicated to Agia Foteini the Samaritan and celebrates on February 26th and on the Sunday of the Samaritan Woman.
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St. Foteini, the Samaritan Woman
St. Foteini (“the enlightened one") lived in first century Palestine. She was the Samaritan woman who Christ visited at the well asking her for water. It was she who accepted the “living water” offered her by Christ after repenting from her many sins. She went and told the people of her towns that she had met the Christ. For this, she is sometimes recognized as the first to proclaim the Gospel of Christ.
She converted her five sisters and her two sons and they all became tireless evangelists. She is remembered by the Church as a Holy Martyr, as she was tortured at the orders of emperor Nero and finally thrown in a well, in the year 66, and as an Equal to the Apostles.