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July 9, 2024

The Martyrdom Site of Saint Michael Paknanas in Athens

On July 9, 1771, an 18 year old gardner named Michael Paknanas was brought to the ancient Temple of Olympian Zeus in Athens to be beheaded on the site of its ruins for his refusal to deny his Christian faith and embrace Islam. His last words to the executioner who taunted him were, "Strike for the Faith!"

On the pillar where he was beheaded, faithful Christians left this inscription: "1771 Ιουλίου 9 απεκεφαλίσθη ο Πακνανάς Μιχάλης" (July 9th 1771 Michael Paknanas was beheaded).

In 2010 it was established that a Divine Liturgy would be celebrated next to this spot annually on the Saint's feast day, which is the same as the date he was martyred. Entrance to the historic site is free on this day only for those who participate in the Divine Liturgy.

Though the inscription is clear in person, it is not easily photographed. The inscription and place of Saint Michael's martyrdom is the furthest right pillar in the zoomed out photo immediately below on the southeastern side; the small spot of sunlight is actually illumining the inscription in the first three photos. The two photos that follow are the spot from another angle. The four photos after these are close ups of the inscription, followed by photos from the festal Divine Liturgy on July 9th.



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