July 27, 2014

The Monastery of Saint Panteleimon in Tilos

The most important shrine on the island of Tilos is the Monastery of Saint Panteleimon, since Saint Panteleimon is the Patron Saint of the island.

It stands isolated on a green hill slope known as Kryallos. Located at an altitude of 450m, it is among ancient trees and chestnut trees and is 15 km from Livadia or 6.5 km from the Megalo Chorio.

The palm-leafed entrance opens to a pebbled courtyard that looks like a lush oasis landscape with flowers, trees, basil, grapevines and even a fountain with fresh spring water. On the building are distinct ancient columns and capitals of the ancient temple of Poseidon, which once stood on this spot. The Monastery was built in 1470-1480 by the monk Jonah. The katholikon, of a cruciform type with a dome, goes back at least to the late 15th century, according to the exquisite frescoes discovered in the narthex of the church. It was restored in 1703 by Abbot Lawrence. The ornate wooden icon screen is from 1714 and the frescoes in the dome and the sanctuary were made ​​in 1776 by ​​Gregory Simaios. After another restoration in 1824, it was expanded in 1843. In the late 19th century, the Monastery was at its zenith and functioned as a bank, issuing banknotes of 5, 10 and 20 Turkish para. It also owned vast tracts of land and animal herds and served as a key economic and spiritual center. During Ottoman times many frescoes were covered with plaster by Muslims, but today they are being restored.

Today the Monastery is no longer in operation, but it is still the most important shrine of the island and every year on July 27th it celebrates a three day feast, beginning on July 25th. The people celebrate Saint Panteleimon, their patron, with liturgical celebrations, food, dancing and traditional music and songs.

Below is a tradition song from Tilos that is danced to on the feast of Saint Panteleimon on July 27th. It is called "Αη μου Παντελεήμονα" ("My Saint Panteleimon") and it is danced in honor of Saint Panteleimon in front of his church.

Lyrics for the First Stanza:

Άη μου Πεντελέμονα με τη μεγάλη βρύση
με τον μεγάλο πλάτανο και με το κυπαρίσσι.
Στη σκάλα μέν' η καρυδιά, στην πλάζα μέν' η βρύση
κι ανάμεσα της τράπεζας, στέκει το κυπαρίσσι.
Κυπαρισσάκι μου ψηλό, σείσου και κάμ' αέρα
να κελαηδήσουν τα πουλιά, να ξημερώσει η μέρα.

My Saint Panteleimon with the great fountain,
with the big tree and the cypress.
On the staircase is the chestnut, in the plaza is the fountain,
and in the midst of the bank, stands the cypress.
My tall cypress, shake and make wind,
so the birds can chirp, and the day can dawn.

Below is the longer version with the dance: