Unlocking the Secrets of Hosios Loukas

One of the newest Gallery Byzantium designs, our Divine Patterns collection features a beautiful geometric Byzantine design inspired by the art of Hosios Loukas (in Phokis, Greece).

The traditional ornamental design that we present as earrings and pendants was inspired by the carved marble panels found in the iconostasis of Hosios Loukas.  This panel design perfectly captures the ancient Christian tradition of using geometric patterns in art and architecture to reveal the divine structures hidden in the material world.

A Beacon of Byzantine Art and Architecture

Hosios Loukas. Via http://crafts-art.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/29-1.jpg.

Named for the venerable St. Luke, Hosios Lukas is one of the most important (not to mention, spectacular) examples of Byzantine art and architecture.  The historic monastery is located on the slopes of Greece’s Mount Helicon, surrounded by picturesque olive trees.  “Byzantine monasteries are built in sites characterized by amazing natural beauty, always in harmony with the surrounding landscape, following the example of the ancient temples.”

The walled monastery, listed on UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites, was founded in the 10th century AD by St Luke, a hermit (not to be confused with the Evangelist of the Gospel of St. Luke).  “[St. Luke’s] great talents were his miraculous ability to heal the faithful and his capacity to prophesy the future – skills that were conducive to his having close relationships with outstanding figures in the aristocracy of Thebes.”  He was especially famous for predicting Emperor Romanos’ conquest of Crete.

The Hosios Lukas “complex consists of two churches (the earlier church and the Katholikon), the refectory, the campanile, the cells and other buildings. The earlier church, dedicated to the Virgin, dates from the second half of the 10th century.”  The church of the Virgin Mary, considered to be a masterpiece of Byzantine architecture, features beautiful cloisonne-style masonry and served as an inspiration for the all of the Byzantine churches of southern Greece.

Later, in the 11th century, the main church of the monastery, the Katholikon, was erected next to the church of the Virgin.  Its purpose was to house the relic of St. Luke, which is “…said to have exuded myron, a sort of perfumed oil which produced healing miracles.” This newer church was dedicated to St. Luke, who was eventually buried in a large crypt in the basement.

Photo via https://www.taxiathensgreece.gr/tour/monastery-of-hosios-loukas-fokida-greece/

Both churches were renowned throughout Byzantium for their extensively lavish decor.  The ceiling of the Katholicon features beautiful mosaics on a golden background.  “Apart from revetment, carving, gold and silver plate, murals, and mosaics (especially imposing on curving surfaces), the interior featured a choice assortment of icons, chandeliers, silk curtains, and altar cloths.”  Unfortunately, many of these beautiful pieces and works were stolen by Crusaders in the 13th century AD. They were then kept in the Vatican for centuries.

“At the time of the Frankish conquest, Catholic clergy settled in the monastery. During the Ottoman period, the monastery reverted to Greek monks and repairs were made to it, the most important being to the dome, which had collapsed just before 1593.”

Careful restoration and conservation work has continued in recent years, with central heating being installed in the church of the Virgin and the roofs repaired.  Click here to take a virtual 360° tour of Hostios Loukas. 

Main image via http://www.thebyzantinelegacy.com/hosios-loukas
Hosios Loukas – https://www.revolvy.com/main/index.php?s=Hosios%20Loukas
Monastery of Hosios Loukas – http://www.visitgreece.gr/en/culture/world_heritage_sites/monastery_of_hosios_loukas
Hosios Loukas – http://hfc-worldwide.org/blog/2015/02/02/hosios-loukas/
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