While the huge earthquake of 1953 destroyed or damaged much of Kefalonia’s heritage, at the monastery of Agios Andreas (St Andrew), near Argostoli, it revealed some long-lost examples of significant artwork.
As the monastery walls crumbled, the falling plaster exposed frescoes dating from the 16th century which had been covered up on the orders of spiteful British officials in Kefalonia.
Now the restored building is a museum, adjoining a working nunnery, and remarkable frescoes and icons from the original site are on display to visitors.
The museum, at Milapedia, in the Peratata area, is about five miles from Argostoli, and opening hours may vary so it is worth checking before you travel.
The exhibits date from between 1300 and 1900, with the ground floor displaying items rescued from other earthquake-damaged churches across the island, as well as finely-embroidered religious vestments like the shroud of Patriarch Gregory V and a shirt attributed to a Kefalonian saint.
The upper floor includes a reconstruction of a bishop’s furnished living quarters, as well as more icons and silverware.
Of particular significance are golden embroideries of the founder of the monastery, Romila, who also features in a painting, with her parents.
Formerly a Greek-Romanian princess, Roxanne, she took the nun’s name Romila and donated much of her wealth to establishing the monastery in 1587, as well as bringing remains said to be part of a foot of the crucified Apostle St Andrew.
However, the opposition of the Greek Orthodox nuns to a period of British rule led to the frescoes being plastered over in retribution during the 1830s.
The modern nuns undertake craftwork for the church, and as well as regular services celebrate the feast day of St Andrew on November 30. Visitors are asked to wear respectful clothing, with shoulders and knees covered.