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Writer: Yavuz İşçen
August 2009

The grave of Saint Mamas and the church in the honor of his name is located in the village of Aksaray, Gökçe Köy whose ancient name was Mamasun. If you turn right on the 15th km of Aksaray-Nevşehir road, after 5 kms you can reach to Gökçe Village. The grave and the church constructed on the grave area later on belong to the saint who is known as Saint Mamas in Christian world but today the Church is being named by the Muslims as Şemmas Baba Tomb. The Tomb got today’s shape by enlarging the Christian church and turning into the Islamic style. The Saint Mamas, who finds acceptance in Christian world today, appears as a local saint lived in Cappadocia during the 3rd century. According to the stories, during the Roman period when he was 12 or 13 years old boy; he was tortured by the reason of disseminating Christianity and that’s why he ran away to the mountains. It is believed in that the hungry boy on the mountain was being visited everyday by a deer to feed him up with its milk. It is known that due to the command of Aurelianus, the Roman Emperor, the soldiers caught the boy and confined him in Kayseri. As his death by a lance was described in the iconographic descriptions he was killed by the soldiers by torturing.
The fame of this boy spreaded about all Christian world by trespassing beyond the boundaries of Cappadocia and Anatolia in the course of time with Roman’s acceptance of Christianity and the Era of Byzantine Empire. Consequently, the little Cappadocian shepherd was beatified and was collectively termed as Saint Mamas. Reported to be buried in Kayseri after he was murdered, Mamas’ grave (his bones) is predicted to be carried to Mamasun Village (Gökçe Village) where is believed to be his place of birth after being called saint in the 5th or 6th century in Era of Byzantine Empire. His lately found tomb and bones clinches this argument. Undoubtedly, the reason why the village has been called as Mamasun is related to him. In the following years a church was built on the tomb of Saint Mamas which was carried to Mamasun Village. The building is a typical palisade Cappadocian church planned as a close Greek cross. The dome that covers the mid space was built on the 6 columns that line up in 2, including 3. The church is dated as 8th or 9th century. It was deserted and forgotten in time after Turkish-Muslims’ settling down in the area. It was discovered in a close time, at the beginning of 19th century.
While enlarging the building which was used as straw house and shed in Mamasun Village, The church and the tomb of Saint Mamas which was localized in it was discovered. His bones were reported to be covered with silver discs some of which had Armenian prayers. The church is known to have been used as a temple and ledge by Muslims since 1850’s. It is remembered as ‘Saints Lodge’ by public. The paints belonged to the church were covered with plaster and stained at the time it was used as a lodge by Muslims. The belief that the visitors are cured made it accepted as holy by both Christians and Muslims. In fact this belief is the beginning of the process of transformation of the church of Saint Mamas to Saints Lodge and Saint Mamas to Pir Şemmas.
There occurred radical changes in Turkey after establishment of the Republic in 1923. In 1924 an interchange of population was made with Greek and Christians left the area. The lodges and small dervish lodges were closed down and interdicted in 1925. The Saints Lodge was closed in this period, too. Thus Saint Mamas Church and tomb were to be neglected once again. The bones were moved to Ankara in a walnut sarcophagus after it was closed down. They were sent back after years but without the silver discs and the sarcophagus! Today there exist only 2 bones of legs one of which are silver and has no writing on in the Pir Şemma’s tomb.

Note: This article has been published in Peribacası Cappadocia Culture and Publicity Magazine, August 2009 issue. It is under protection of the copyrights of the magazine. No part of this article may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by electronic, mechanical or other means without prior permission from the owner. www.cappadociaexplorer.com


Reading Reading: 3596 Eklenme Tarihi Date: 2010-01-06

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