An ancient church supports 17 maple trees that grow on its roof and walls. Surprisingly, only one root, the size of an arm, is visible inside the church.
St Theodora church or Agia Theodora Vasta is a tiny Byzantine church in Central Peloponnese, Greece, built in the 11th or 12th century. What’s interesting is that it has 17 maple trees, each over 30 meters tall, growing on its roof and walls.
Astonishingly, the roots of these trees are invisible. Only one root about the thickness of an arm is visible beside the entrance. In fact, there are no signs of the trees or roots inside the tiny barrel, except for some wispy bit of green.
Besides this anomaly, a river runs under the chapel, nourishing the trees.
The church got its name from a legend of Martyr Theodora who lived in Vasta in the 10th century.
In her village, sons needed to join the army during wars. Since her parents didn’t have any sons, her old father was expected to go when bandits attacked the village. So she disguised herself as soldier Theodore and went on to become a valiant and determined soldier, who gained several followers.
One woman developed feelings for soldier Theodore and claimed that he had impregnated her. As a result, soldier Theodore was asked to either marry the woman or be sentenced to death. Theodora chose the latter.
Before her execution, she placed her faith in God and prayed, “Let my body become a church, my blood a river, and my hair the trees.”
After her death, a spring gushed on to become a river at the place where she was martyred and a church was built there. Following that, naturally, 17 trees grew on the church, symbolizing the age at which she died.
So far, many scientists have studied the church to uncover the mystery of how the trees are growing on the church without roots and how such an old church can support 17 fully grown trees.
Even though scientists took X-rays of the church, they couldn’t find any roots. However, they could trace a system consisting of tiny hair-like roots threading inside the wall carrying nourishment from the river.