A singular village in Corsica

It was to escape the Ottoman yoke that 600 Greeks settled in Paomia in the 17th century.

After many confrontations, the present Cargèse was built in 1768 by the French army of the Count of Marbeuf.

The village has two complementary witnesses to the settlement of this community: the two churches, one Latin, the other Greek, which face each other on the seafront.

Throughout the year, the two brotherhoods of Cargese, Saint Anthony and Saint Spiridion, perpetuate the traditions developed by these two communities, culminating in the celebrations of Easter, during Holy Week.

A non-standard configuration

In Cargèse, facing each other on the seafront, the Greek church and the Latin church both contain an infinite number of testimonies of the local history.

Between them, they certainly embody the cultural and religious diversity of the village.

The first religious building is certainly more enchanting with its exotic incense fragrance, but the Latin church is also well worth a visit.

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St. Francis Convent

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Church of the Assumption

...known as Latin

In 1817, the heads of Corsican families met and decided to launch a subscription for the construction of a Latin rite church. A certain Antoine Andréani then donated a piece of land.

But the times are changing and the the first digging did not begin until 8 years later. The construction work was spread out from 1825 to 1828. It even required "help" from the Ministry of Cults.

In the archives, there is mention of several necessary repairs. In 1835 the roof was blown off and in 1845 the interior fittings were still not completed. The bell tower was not built until 1847.

The church has a nave flanked by two semi-circular side chapels.

The choir is separated from the nave by a doorway and a communion table. The choir's wall paintings have recently been restored.

The barrel vault rests on a moulded cornice supported by Corinthian-style pilasters, evidence of the church's neo-classical decoration that can still be seen today.

On the north side of the church, the square part of the two-storey bell tower is topped by an octagonal lantern with an oculus.

The front facade is punctuated by flat pilasters and crowned by an undulating pediment. Its side elevations are pierced with high windows, directly illuminating the nave.

The priest Eli Papadacci, Greek by origin, adopted the Latin rite at that time, taking with him the Petrolacci family and part of the Dragacci family.

Church of St. Spyridon

...known as Greek

A living symbol of tradition, it replaces the primitive church which was too narrow.
Started shortly after the Latin church, around 1852, it was not completed until 20 years later. The faithful then all worked on this construction every Sunday after mass and until nightfall.

In accordance with the model of oriental temples, the sanctuary is separated from the nave by an iconostasis or wooden partition covered with holy images. This iconostasis, originally intended for the convent of Grotta Ferrata near Rome, was donated to the colony by the Congregation of Propaganda. It dates from 1886.

Two side alcoves are dedicated to :

  • the "Panaghia" or "All-Holy" patron saint of the Congregation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (right)
  • Saint Spiridion, patron saint of the brotherhood of the same name, to which all Greeks are enrolled from birth and more than a third of the Latin population (left)

For services and ceremonies, the rite of Athens and Constantinople is almost entirely followed, as are the Greek-Catholic colonies of Paris, Lyon and Marseille. 

Ancient Greek remains the liturgical language, which makes it easier for the faithful to read and understand the prayers, since they have in their hands a missal containing the original text in Latin characters with the French translation opposite. 

The two most important solemnities are: Easter Monday with the blessing of the countryside and Saint Spiridion, the patronal feast of Cargese, celebrated on 12 December.

As in the East, baptism is given by triple immersion. The priest then confirms the child and gives him or her communion in the form of wine with a spoon. 

Communion is distributed to the faithful under both species

The wedding is marked by the imposition of crowns: one bearing vine leaves, the other an olive branch.

Cargèse has about 300 parishioners of the Greek rite.

Easter celebrations

An event not to be missed

On the programme:

  • Holy Thursday
    Latin Church: Easter Communion: the mass recalls the Last Supper, then in the evening: Procession of the Dead Christ: to the chant of " Perdono mio dio ", the faithful follow the "remains" of Christ.
  • Good Friday
    Greek Church: "Entombment of Christ": procession in the church.
    Latin Church: Way of the Cross inside the church.
    Greek Church: in the evening: "Funeral songs and eulogies": songs, laments and funeral laments to join the Latin Church where the two brother rites are reunited.
  • Holy Saturday
    Greek Church: Liturgy of St Basil.
    Latin Church: blessings of the sacred fire and baptismal water.
    Greek Church: Office of the Resurrection followed by the Greek liturgy, candle ceremony.
  • Easter Sunday
    Latin Church: Solemn High Mass of Easter.
  • Easter Monday
    Solemn mass with triumphal procession, flags and musketry salutes symbolising the joy of the resurrection, banners flying. The procession ends with the blessing of the countryside, the icon of the Virgin is raised at the four cardinal points.

And during the whole holy week the whole village of Cargèse comes alive with numerous festivities.