Dominating Alexandra’s Square, St. Catherine’s Church stands right in the heart of Pasalimani. An architectural piece of unique beauty, St. Catherine’s church is accompanied by an intriguing and romantic story.
A Love Story with a Touch of Espionage
In the early 30s, an Italian merchant, Vincenzo Caivano falls in love with a beautiful young woman from Piraeus, Katerina. Vincenzo and Katerina get married and spend their days between Constaninople and Piraeus. Unfortunately, in 1934 and after a long illness, Katerina dies. Vincenzo, inconsolable after his beloved wife’s death and in order to honor her memory, decides to have a church erected. The church would bear her name: St. Catherine’s Church.
In 1937 Vincenzo brought Katerina’s dead body from Constantinople to Piraeus in a bronze coffin with glass top that allowed him to see her face. He placed the coffin in a crypt especially made in the basement of the church. Dressed in black, he would spend endless hours sitting next to her, whipping, while rumor has it that he would have dinner pretending Katerina was there with him.
A while before the Greek-Italian War in 1940, the British Intelligence in Greece traces some strange codified messages coming from the area of Kastella, and more specifically from St. Catherine’s church. A night when Vincenzo was in Constantinople, British Intelligence agents searched the church and the crypt. And there it was: a high-tech transmitter hidden right under Katerina’s head! Upon his return from Constantinople, Vincenzo was arrested on charges of espionage.
St. Cahterine’s Church Trivia
In the yard extending before St. Catherine’s Church there is a small chapel, named after Vincenzo, St. Vincent’s Chapel.