• Europe /
  • Greece /
  • Peloponnese

St. Theodora Church

Trees with a height of 30 meters grow through the roof of this miraculous church.

<p>(by Simone Vaccari, CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)</p>

A devoted woman who dedicated her life to helping local people against bandits died praying to God to turn her hair into trees, her blood into a river to water them, and her body into a temple.

Lost in the deepest Arcadian forest lies today the miracle of her prayer.

The Legend of Saint Theodora

A young woman named Theodora grew up in the village of Vasta, not far from this location. 

These lands were infested with bandits and raiders who were enemies of the local inhabitants. Theodora soon felt the need to join the defence, but there was one problem, she was not a man. As a woman, she would be viewed poorly, or at the very least, not recognised as a warrior. 

Nevertheless, Theodora was determined to help defend her village, and this did not stop the fighting spirit of the revered young woman, who disguised herself as a man. She soon became a recognised warrior, earning the respect of the local people.

After arduous feats and fighting, the young woman suffered a mortal blow on this very location, and as she lay dying, she uttered the following words:

“Let my body become a church

My blood a river

My hair the forest”

So it was that after those powerful words, the villagers were moved by such courage and valour and erected a church in her honour.

As predicted by the prayer of the holy virgin, water began to flow directly under the church, and 17 giant trees sprouted from the roof.

Today’s location

(by Simone Vaccari, CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)

This legendary event sparks a stir among visitors today and undoubtedly makes this a mysterious place. St. Theodora has become a vital saint of the Greek Orthodox Church, and the site has grown into a unique destination for religious pilgrims and tourists.

Theodora is celebrated on September 11th, when thousands of people from all across Greece travel here for the occasion and pray to the virgin.

The building dates from the 11th and 12th Centuries CE, and because of its unique appearance and formation, many scientists tried to explain it. However, the roots and trunks of these massive trees penetrate the stone and somehow, for many,  miraculously do not collapse the little church.

(by Simone Vaccari, CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)

Between the curious visitors and the pilgrims, the place is an awe-inspiring destination able to mesmerise and make you think. Moreover, the Orthodox community has created a peaceful environment that puts its visitors at ease with calmness and relaxation.

Ptolemy Team
Last updated on
November 17, 2022

Ptolemy Team

All our content is conceived and written by our editorial team, consisting of students and recent graduates in Cultural Heritage, Ancient and Medieval History, and Arts.