Friday, April 17, 2015

The Holy Monastery of Zoodochos Pege in Poros

History of the Monastery

The old historical Holy Monastery of Zoodochos Pege of Poros is located 4km east of the main city of Poros island and is built on the slope of a pine forest.

It was founded in 1720 by the Archbishop of Athens Iakovos II who, after suffering from lithiasis, was miraculously cured after drinking from the holy water springing near the Holy Monastery.

In 1733 the Patriarch of Constantinople Paisios II recognized it as a Monastery under the Patriarch's jurisdiction. This act gave it a lot of privileges.

Later on, in 1798, Patriarch Gregory V, with a sigillion (officially sealed document), which is safely kept in the guest quarters (archondariki) of the Holy Monastery, ratified Patriarch Paisios II's document related to the privileges of the Monastery.

In 1814, a group of monks from Mount Athos, called "Kollyvades", took refuge in this Monastery. A few years later, these monks founded the Zoodochos Pege Monastery at Longovarda on the island of Paros.

In 1821, monks from another monastery of Mount Athos also sought refuge in this Monastery in order to keep in safety the sacred and valuable articles of their Monastery and the Holy Relic of Saint John the Baptist.

The Monastery's contribution (financial, social and spiritual) to the Greek War of Liberation in 1821 was invaluable.

The first Governor of liberated Greece, John Kapodistrias, as well as the great warriors of land and sea Miaoulis, Tompazis, Apostolis, Boudouris and Drosinos, received strength from their beloved Monastery, praying in front of the holy icon of the Mother of God of the Zoodochos Pege Monastery.

In 1828, in the establishments of the Holy Monastery, John Kapodistrias founded the first orphanage of the liberated Greek nation for the orphans of the warriors of the war for freedom. 180 orphans were sheltered in the Monastery, which took full care of them.

In 1830, the first Ecclesiastical School, in the eastern wing of the Monastery, was founded by John Kapodistrias, with 15 students.

The Governor's vision was to provide the new born state with educated clergymen, willing to work for its spiritual support.

The Holy Monastery became a source of spiritual comfort for many believers and other religious people.

In this monastery also, in the beginning of the 20th century, Saint Nektarios, a saint of our times, stayed for a couple of months as well as other holy ascetic people, who sanctified the place with their prayers and spiritual struggles.

The Main Church (Katholikon)

The Katholikon, or the main church of a monastery, is a basilica with a dome and a tower like belfry.

In both sides of the vestibule of the church there are the tombs of the heroic admirals of the Liberation War of Greece: Manolis Tombazis from Hydra and Nicholas Apostolis from Psara.

Inside the church there is an excellent iconostasis (templon) of exquisite craft. It was probably made in Asia Minor, it is five meters high, curved on lime-wood and plated with gold. Its great height and its bending surface towards the main part of the church help towards the excellent acoustics of the building.

On the right of the iconostasis is the household icon of the Panagia of the Zoodochos Pigi (the Life-giving Spring). The old Byzantine icon is dated in 1650. It is a masterpiece of Byzantine art. Around the main figure of the Mother of God, many miracles that Her Grace worked are depicted.

In front of the icon there is a silver oil lamp, in which a vigil light is burning as a token of gratitude for the miracle worked by the Mother of God in 1990. After a long period of drought, the Panagia listened to the prayers of monks and priests and it rained.

Opposite the icon of the Panagia and on the left of the "templon" there is an icon of the Mother of God painted by the Italian painter and doctor Raphael Tsecoli (1849). The icon shows the Panagia holding the Holy Infant Jesus and a sceptre. This icon was donated to the Monastery by Tsecoli out of gratitude because his daughter, Archia Tsecoli, who finally died of tuberculosis in 1847, was hosted and cured at the Monastery. Tsecoli has given his daughter's lineaments to the face of the Panagia and little Jesus. In the lower part of the icon, Tsecoli painted the Monastery, protected by the Mother of God.

On the left side of the church, near the entrance, there is also a small, miracle-working icon of great value, placed on a wood-engraved stand. It is called Panagia the Amolyntos (the Immaculate), dated to 1590 and is decorated with a gold-and-silver-plated cover. It is called "Evresis", because it was found in the woods. It was offered by monk Zosimas.

On the western wall of the church, the icon of Christ Pantocrator (the All-Mighty God) is hung, made with excellent craftsmanship (1780).

According to tradition, there are two more icons offered by the admirals Vasilios Boudouris and Andreas Miaoulis. It is said that Miaoulis had a gold-and-silver-plated icon of the Panagia Zoodochos Pigi with him, in his battle ship "Aris". He had it hung on the ship's bridge and he often prayed in front of it during the battles at sea.

On the outer south wall of the main church a sundial is attached. It is the work of a priest-monk named Galaction Galatis, who was prior of the Monastery.

The Holy Monastery comes under the jurisdiction of the Holy Metropolis of Hydra, Spetses, Aegina, Hermionis and Trizinia. It numbers 17 registered monks. Three of them reside permanently in the Monastery and, apart from their duties as monks, they offer social and spiritual help to the people of the wider territory of the local Church.

Source: Edited by John Sanidopoulos.

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