August 20, 2014

Eldress Anastasia and the Monastery of Our Lady of the Angels in Kerkyra

The Monastery of Our Lady of the Angels is in the village of Riglades in the southern part of the island of Corfu (Kerkyra).

An inscription in the Monastery indicates it was constructed in 1656, but sources say it was built between 1696-1700 by the family of Barlaam Kapodistrias to honor the Panagia who saved his sons from drowning.

During British rule (1814-1864) the Monastery was burned, but the church remained and during the plague epidemic that ravaged the island it served as a house for the sick. It is said that this church was later burned by the people for fear that it contained germs, so all that was left intact of the Monastery was the belltower.

Due to this, with the passage of time the Monastery fell into decay and was forgotten by the people, but not by God.

The Restoration

There was a ten year old girl named Anastasia, a chosen vessel of God who was born in 1910, from the same village as the Monastery.

Her parents had fields with olives near the Monastery, and several times Anastasia passed the ruins of the Monastery and would see a figure praying near the belltower, and she wondered who or what this figure was that was praying there.

The answer to her question soon came, we can say, from the Panagia herself.

One day, she heard a voice calling her: "Anastasia, is it not a pity that I am buried in here? I want you to fix my Monastery."

Anastasia was startled and didn't say anything to anyone.

After several such divine manifestations, the ten year old Anastasia decided to speak of this incident with her mother, because she was terrified after the last appearance of the Panagia, since she was warned that the village would "fall" to disease.

(Several people suddenly died at that time.)

When Anastasia told her mother everything that was taking place for so long, she confessed that when she was little she had a similar experience.

Anastasia, one could say, could not find peace and her mind was constantly on the Monastery and the divine manifestations she experienced.

Thus, after four years when she was fourteen years old, she told everyone and so they decided to build the Monastery.

As long as the restoration work lasted, Anastasia did not leave the site for even a minute. She took her dwelling in a hollow tree, which today is called "Holy Hollow" (Αγιοκούφαλο). It is called "The Holy Hollow of the Barefoot Ascetic Anastasia Vlachos".*

In 1933 Anastasia, now a nun from the Monastery of Saint Nicholas in Melikia of Lefkimmi, settled in the Monastery of Our Lady of the Angels and came to complete its restoration. It was completed in 1935.

By 1955 it began to be populated with nuns. This fulfilled the main goal of Eldress Anastasia. In 1965 there were seven nuns, while today there are only two.

The nun Anastasia lived ascetically, far from all worldly things, and she lived according to the will of God and the requirements of the Gospel.

She reposed at the age of 69 on the 22nd of September in 1979.

In 1991 the Monastery was officially recognized by Presidential Decree.

There is a folk tradition that says that if you have deep faith and take three stones from the grave of the ascetic Anastasia and say three prayers, then the stones will return to her grave.

In the Monastery is also kept the Miraculous Icon of Our Lady of the Angels. It celebrates annually on August 15th.

* The ascetic Anastasia Vlachos is called "barefoot" because she was always barefoot, as can be seen in the photo below.