April 18, 2012

Synaxis of Panagia Ypseni in Rhodes

The holy and most-honored icon of the Panagia "Ypsenis" was hidden beneath an olive tree in the eponymous village of Lardos, which was the site of an old Monastery of the Most-Holy Theotokos. In that place was often found in asceticism and prayer our Holy Father Meletios (February 12), who one night became an eye-witness to a marvelous spectacle. A column of light came down from the sky lighting up the tree and surrounding area.

Surprised he approached and found an old looking icon of the Mother of God. The next night the Theotokos appeared to him in a dream telling him to build in her name a temple at the place where he found the icon, in order to place the icon, and to establish a monastery, to continue in his asceticism.

At the same time she showed him a place near the area where she told him to dig to find the necessary money for such a large project. The Saint obeyed the command of the Panagia, dug at the place suggested, and found the buried treasure by which he managed to meet the costs of building. He built the temple in which he treasured the Holy Icon, and refounded the ruined monastery, where he lived in asceticism till the end of his earthly life.

The miraculous icon is treasured until now in the homonymous monastery and is honored by the faithful and is a source of many miracles to those who approach with faith and reverence.

The Monastery of Panagia Ypseni

On the South-Eastern side of the island of Rhodes, 50 km from Rhodes Town, in the direction of Lindos and the village Lardos, hidden in a once verdant forest is the monastery of the Panagia Ypseni or Gypseni.

There are two possible explanations for the title given the Panagia. Ypseni from the Greek word for height, indicating the monastery is built on high ground. There is a folk verse which says, “O Panagia of Ypseni, thou who art in the heights”. The other explanation says that it is a corruption of the word gypseni, because of the high amount of gypsum in the surrounding

According to the commemorative stone at the entrance of the Church, the monastery was built around 1855. It’s founder was St. Meletios of Rhodes.

Today about 15 nuns live within the monastery, under the spiritual direction of the abbess of the monastery, Mariam. The monastery’s first abbess was the nun Eugenia. The sisterhood was established by the Metropolitan of New Zealand, Amphilochios Tsoukos.

The monastery celebrates its patronal feast on the 22 and 23rd of August, on the leavetaking of the Dormition of the Mother of God, where multitudes of people come together. The monastery also celebrates the memory of St. Meletios on the 12th of February. There is also a celebration on Bright Wednesday.

The Synaxis of the Icon of the All-Holy Mother of God of Ypseni is celebrated on Bright Wednesday after Pascha. The faithful take the icon to the village of Lardos on Bright Monday. The priest and a multitude of people accompany the icon to every house, so that all can receive her blessing. On Tuesday of Bright Week the icon is returned to the Holy Monastery Ypseni accompanied by the priests and a multitude of the faithful who make the journey on foot.

The sisters of the monastery paint icons, sew, work the land (vines, olives, citrus fruits etc) and mount icon reproductions onto natural wood.