In one of the most beautiful neighbourhoods of Garitsa, near the Windmill and next to the archeological site of Paleopolis, one of the most impressive and ancient churches in the city, the Church of Saints Jason and Sosipater, is tucked away.
The church is dedicated to the two Saints, Jason and Sosipater, students of St. Paul, who were the first to teach Christianity to the inhabitants of the island in the 1st century AD. The church was built in the 11th century by craftsmen of Attica or Boeotia on ruins of an ancient temple.
It is one of the earliest and best preserved examples of a specific architectural type called "cruciform inscribed" consisting of a dome that rests on walls and two columns.
Its walls at the bottom are built of large alabaster stones, probably coming from the ruins of ancient Paleopolis, located in the neighbouring area of Kanoni.
At the top, the brick-enclosed masonry system is decorated with characteristic ceramic designs. Inside, the church hosts important icons of the famous Cretan hagiographers, Emmanuel Buniali Janne and Michael Damaskinos. Particularly impressive is the marble iconostasis in baroque style of the 18th century.
The church was previously full of frescoes but in 1820 they were destroyed when it was whitewashed. From its former painted decoration, few elements from different eras are preserved today.
The Life of the Saints and the relationship with Corfu and Agia Kerkyra (Corfu)
he Holy Apostles, Jason and Sosipater, came from Thessaloniki and Achaia, respectively. The Apostle Paul came to Thessaloniki, where he taught for a few weeks. His teaching drew the hatred of the Jews, who turned against him. Because he was staying at Jason’s house, the Jews sought him out. Not finding him, they dragged Jason to the authorities instead. The polytheists, after interrogating Jason and his brothers, set them free and assured them that they would not be bothered. Nevertheless, Jason’s position did not cease to be precarious.
According to the Bible, Jason and Sosipater are described as “relatives” of the Apostle Paul, a definition that probably means that Paul and Jason were like-minded, but not blood relatives. Jason seems to have maintained a small weaving workshop, in which Paul found work. This indicates that they settled in Thessaloniki, maybe permanently. The only thing that is certain is that Jason lived in Thessaloniki and that he became a disciple of the Apostle Paul.
Jason’s action begins immediately after his conversion to Christianity. He hosts Paul in his house, offers his help to the teacher and the first Christians, has his own house utilized for the meetings or synaxis and is persecuted for the sake of the Gospel.
Both Jason and Sosipater came to Corfu, where they preached the Holy Gospel. Both associates of the Apostle Paul, because of their missionary activity, were slandered, arrested and thrown in prison by the ruler Kerkyllinos.
According to religious belief, seven robbers converted to Christianity in prison, later testifying their faith. The two Apostles were handed over by the ruler to the prefect, Caprian, who, unable to persuade them to give up their faith, threw them in prison.
The tortures suffered by the two Apostles, moved the daughter of the ruler of Corfu, Kerkyra, who embraced Christianity. Both Apostles were thrown into an iron cauldron, where there was tar and resin. Jason came out unscathed, while Sosipater succumbed.
Kerkyra sold off all her jewelry, and gave the money to the poor. When her father found out and couldn’t convince her to reconsider her religious standpoint, he handed her over to an Ethiopian to corrupt her. The Ethiopian however converted to Christianity through her and was consequently killed.
Kerkyra was tortured in many ways and in the end she was hanged and killed with arrows. The Apostle Jason lived to a ripe old age, serving the Church of Corfu and building temples. The church and Saints Jason and Sosipater as well as Agia Corfu celebrate on April 29.
Ιερός Ναός Αγίων Αποστόλων Ιάσωνος και Σωσιπάτρου, https://iasonossosipatrou.com/photos.html
Ορθόδοξος Συναξαριστής (2010), “Άγιοι Ιάσονας και Σωσίπατρος οι Απόστολοι“, http://www.saint.gr/371/saint.aspx