Spiritual Greece: Monastery Of Osios Patapios Loutraki.

The monastery of Osios Patapios Loutraki
The Monastery Of Osios Patapios Loutraki

Italy, so I have heard, has more churches per square mile, than any other country in the world,
 I'm sure Greece must be a close second!

Our little town of Loutraki has its fair share.


 Osios Patapios ( Saint Patapios) monastery, situated high up on the Gerania Mountains, looking down over Loutraki, is, I think, the most interesting.


Saint Patapios
Saint Patapios



Osios Patapios, about fourteen kilometres from Loutraki, is at an altitude of about seven hundred metres above the Gulf of Korinth.

It's quite a trek, once you've  parked your car at the bottom of the one hundred and forty four steps, up to the monastery!

The views though, makes the effort worthwhile,  the whole gulf of Corinth is laid out in front of you.




View of Loutraki from Osios Patapios
View of Loutraki from Osios Patapios



That's the town of Loutraki down there,  X marks the spot ;our House!

At the bottom of the steps there were a couple of ladies selling honey and products made from bees wax, you nearly always find this at the entrances to Greek monasteries, the products are usually made by the nuns or monks themselves.

I had to laugh at a large sign describing one of the products here:

"Cream for hemorrhoids made from bees wax!

I hope it didn't have a sting in it!


Bees wax products
Bees wax products


The sign for hemorrhoids is the second from the right, written in red.


It took us a while to reach the monastery, you just can't help but keep stopping to look at the splendid view along the way.




Iconostasis
Iconostasis




MGG was way ahead, and kept shouting for me to hurry up, I had my photographs to take, otherwise, what would I have shown you today?


MGG waiting
MGG waiting


Here he is, waiting at the top of the steps and at the entrance to the monastery.

The top picture is on the way down, see how he's ahead again?

How small and insignificant he looks against that magnificent background.




Made it up 144 steps
Made it up 144 steps

There! I made it to the top!

The entrance opens onto a small courtyard, here is the chapel of The Virgin Mary of Egypt and, in the farthest corner, the cave containing the relic of Saint Patapios.



Courtyard of The Monastery Of Osios Patapios
Courtyard of The Monastery Of Osios Patapios



Chapel of the Virgin Mary Of Egypt
Chapel of the Virgin Mary Of Egypt



It is a women's monastery, forty nuns live there today.

Osios Patapios, was established in 1952, built around the caves, where the relic of Patapios were found in 1904 by Constantine Sossanis.




The discovery of the remains of Osios Patapios Loutraki 1904
The discovery of the remains of Osios Patapios
Loutraki
1904



The relics had been placed under tiles and leaves to protect the body from the damp.

A scroll, bearing the name Patapios , a large wooden cross and some Byzantine coins, were discovered along with the remains.

Today, the relic of Saint Patapios, is housed in a sanctuary , carved out of the rock, North-West of the convent.


Relic of Saint Patapios
Relic of Osios Patapios


Relic of Osios Patapios
Relic of Osios Patapios


Also inside the caves, are Byzantine wall paintings from the thirteenth century, the three main figures being:

 Saint Patapios, Saint Ipomoni (St.Patience, a female saint) and Saint Nikon.



The Holy Skull of Saint Ipomoni, is also kept at the Monastery of Osioss Patapios.



Holy Skull of Ipomoni (Patience) Osios Patapios Loutraki
Holy Skull of Ipomoni (Patience)
Osios Patapios Loutraki



Byzantine wall painting
Byzantine wall painting
Saint Patapios, Saint Ipomoni, Saint Nikon





Saint Nikon, born circa 930, died 998,, was a Byzantine monk, itinerant preacher, and Christian Orthodox saint.

Nikon, of Greek origin, was born in Pontus (modern north-eastern Turkey) or in Argos.
 When he was young, Nikon went to a monastery, known as Khrysopetro ("Golden Stone") located on the borders of Pontus and Paphlagonia, where he spent twelve years there, living an ascetic life of prayer and penance, so extreme that his brothers tried to persuade him to lessen his regimen.

Niko traveled to Asia Minor and preached repentance there for three years before moving on. Following the expulsion of the Arabs from Crete in 961 by Nikephoros Phokas, he became active as a missionary preacher on the island, struggling to return recent converts of Islam back to Christianity.

  After spending five years on Crete, Nikon went on to Epidauros, Athens, and Euboea
. He then travelled to Thebes and Corinth, and finally down into the Peloponnese, particularly to Sparta, which he reputably saved from a plague.

 While in Sparta, Nikon constructed three churches and a monastery and continued his preaching and teachings, which were reportedly confirmed by miracles.
 The Peloponnese is represented as a land full of demons, of which Nikon is constantly struggling against.

 He ended his life in mainland Greece, in the province of Lakonia, where he exerted considerable influence on both clergy and laity, founding a large number of churches.
 As a result, after his sanctification by the Greek Orthodox Church, he eventually became patron saint of the town of Sparta and the region of the Mani Peninsula (southern part of Ancient Sparta) where he brought Christianity to Mani and preached it to the Maniots.

 His Feast Day is celebrated each year on November 26.



Saint Ipomoni
Saint Ipomoni




As an empress, St. Ipomoni, also known as Helena Dragaš,  was noted for her pious works.

Her husband, a former emperor, became a monk with the name Mathieu.
After her husband’s death, Ipomoni became a nun at the Monastery of Kira Martha, taking the name Ipomoni (also Hipomoni).

Although she was a former empress, she helped with all the jobs in the monastery along with the other nuns, and helped to establish a home for old people, with the name "The Hope of the Despaired", located at the Monastery of St. John of the Stone, where the relics of St. Patapios of Thebes were also kept.

An early siege of Constantinople occurred and St. Ipomoni and her husband were exiled from 1390 to 1392.

Ipomoni died on March 13, 1450, three years before Constantinople fell to the Ottoman Turks. Her son, Emperor Constantine XI Palaiologos, died in the final charge (although some say, he died on the altar table of Hagia Sophia, Constantinople) during the fall of Constantinople, on May 29, 1453, along with many other Christians, who were slaughtered by the Ottoman Turk forces of Sultan Mehmet II

St. Ipomoni was buried in the Monastery of the Pantocratoras in Constantinople, where her husband and three of their children (of which two were monks as well) were also buried.

After the conquest of Constantinople by the Turks in 1453, Angelis Notaras, a nephew of St. Ipomoni, transferred the relics of St. Patapius of Thebes to a cave, on the Gerania mountain of Loutraki, near Athens.

The cave, a place where hermit monks had lived since the eleventh century, also, housed  a Byzantine icon of St. Patapios and Ipomoni, as well as the skull of St. Ipomoni.
In 1952, Father Nektarios Marmarinos established the Monastery ofOsios Patapios, where they still keep the holy skull of St. Ipomoni.

The memory of St. Ipomoni is celebrated on May 29, the day that Constantinople fell to the Ottomans.




Oil lamps in the cave of Osios Patapios
Oil lamps in the cave of Osios Patapios



Just look at all the lamps hanging from the roof of the cave, always burning, day and night.

Visitors take, as an amulet, from the cave, a piece of cotton wool soaked with holy oil from the burning lamps and holy water from a source next to the cave.



Outside the cave of Osios Patapios, Loutraki
Outside the cave of Osios Patapios, Loutraki



I haven't visited Osios Patapios for a long time, I do remember, that if you were wearing trousers, or a sleeveless top, the nuns provided you with something to cover your shoulders, usually an apron, to use as a shawl, or a skirt, to put on over your trousers.

 As recently as 1977 when I first arrived in Greece, it was frowned upon for girls to wear trousers, and certainly not in a church.

MGG has four sisters, my Mother-In-law would never allow them to wear trousers, and they never did until after they were married, today, when they go to visit her, they never wear trousers, not now from the fear of being yelled at, but out of respect.

I also remember, a nun would show you the shriveled up hand of the relic, with the aid of a torch.

Things have "progressed", I say this with tongue in cheek, I see they now have a fluorescent light over the Saint's coffin.

I forgot to look for the shriveled hand!





Hand of Osios Patapios
Loutraki, Greece



The first Mother Superior of the monastery was Patapia.



Patapia
Patapia

Father Nectarios Marmarinos was their Spiritual Father



Father Nectarios Marmarinos
Father Nectarios Marmarinos


The last Mother Superior, Isidora died last month on the twenty seventh of October.(2014)



Funeral of Mother Superior Isadora
Funeral of Mother Superior Isadora


Above shows the funeral of Mother Superior Isidora. (Greek funerals nearly always have an open coffin)


Mother Superior Isidora is buried in the courtyard of the monastery.



The grave of Mother Superior Isadora
The grave of Mother Superior Isadora



The grave of Mother Superior Isadora
The grave of Mother Superior Isadora


The new Mother Super is to be Sister Chrisovalanti, who will be officially named Mother Superior on the eighth of December, the  name day of Osios Patapios.



Sister Chrisovalanti
Sister Chrisovalanti


Saint Patapios, was born in Thebes, Egypt in the fourth century AD and is known as Saint Patapios of Thebes.

He was born of wealthy, Christian parents.
and, from a young age, he lived a hermit in the desert.

Later in life he left Thebes for Constantinople.

He lived in the area of Blachernae where he built:

The Monastery Of The Egyptians.

This is where he eventually died and why the small chapel, next to the cave of Patapios is named 

"The Virgin Mary Of Egypt"





The Virgin Mary Of Egypt
Chapel The Virgin Mary Of Egypt


There is a wonderful carved chandelier in this small chapel, "The Virgin Mary Of Egypt".



Chandelier chapel of The Virgin Mary Of Egypt
Chandelier chapel of The Virgin Mary Of Egypt


A beautiful painting on the domed ceiling of "The Virgin Mary Of Egypt".


Chapel The Virgin Mary Of Egypt
Chapel The Virgin Mary Of Egypt


I managed to catch a nun unawares and take her picture, only from the back though, they are very elusive and hate having their picture taken.

If you ask permission they nearly always refuse.

Here she is, tending to the icon of "The Virgin Mary"



Nun
Nun


Here's another nun scurrying across the courtyard.




Greek Orthodox Nun
Greek Orthodox Nun


When Constantinople was defeated by the Ottomans, devout Greek Ordodox Christians, managed to smuggle the relic of Saint Patapios , out of Constantinople, and bring it to Mount Gerania, near the town of Thermai (hot springs) today called Loutraki.

Saint Patapios is the patron Saint of dropsy, well, I never knew that dropsy had a patron saint!

His name day is celebrated on the eighth of December

See more Saints of The Greek Orthodox Church below:








6 comments:

  1. Nice Susan, my mum and dad would not visit Loutraki without me taking them to Osios Patapios, slowly but surely climbed the steps..... rested for a while,then, we were always offered a cup of Greek coffee and a loukoumi. memories !! xxx

    ReplyDelete
  2. Yes Christine, memories, I hadn't been up there for years!
    It was very quiet, because it's Winter I suppose, not many tourists.
    Susan.x

    ReplyDelete
  3. Loutraki should have utilized all these beautiful monasteries. A little bit of religious tourism wouldn't have harmed anyone. The opposite I must say.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think they are getting a bit better here in Loutraki, re promoting tourism.
      They do have tours offered in the tourist offices, a little bit more marketing wouldn't go astray though.
      Susan.

      Delete
  4. Beautiful and quiet place in my home town !!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, lovely and peaceful, a lot of steps to climb!
      Susan.x

      Delete

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