Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Saint Phanourios, Patron Saint of Karagiozis Puppeteers

Karagiozis is the main character of the tales narrated in the Turkish and Greek shadow-puppet theatre going back to at least the 19th century. Karagiozis is an anti-hero hunchbacked Greek, who is very clever and very poor, his right hand is always depicted long, his clothes are ragged and patched, and his feet are always bare. He lives in a poor cottage with his wife Aglaia and his three sons, during the times of the Ottoman Empire. The scene is occupied by his cottage in the left, and the Sultan's Palace on the far right. Because of his poverty, Karagiozis uses mischievous and crude ways to find money and feed his family, poking fun at himself, his friends, the Pasha, taxes and the audience in general. His shows usually tell comedic stories of his adventures.

In 1924 Greek Karagiozis puppeteers established the Pan-Hellenic Karagiozis Players Club and established Saint Phanourios as their patron saint. He officially became their patron in 1952, though even before that they would gather on his feast day on August 27th. His icon even appears on their banner. This is because Saint Phanourios is the patron saint of those who need help finding things, so the puppeteers pray to Saint Phanourios to help them find and keep employment. Even today they gather every year on his feast day.

Members of the Karagiozis Players Club gather on the feast of Saint Phanourios on August 27, 1925.

Members of the Karagiozis Players Club in 1952 posing in front of their banner depicting St. Phanourios.