September 8, 2015

Panagia Kalamiotissa in Anafi

Panagia Kalamiotissa (Feast Day - September 8)

The Church of Panagia Kalamiotissa in Anafi, which is dedicated to the Nativity of the Theotokos, takes its name from its location on Mount Kalamos. According to local tradition the icon of the Theotokos was found on the peak of this mountain, mounted on a reed. Because the Theotokos wanted a monastery built there, at night she would take the tools of the workers who were building the church to that spot. Thus the monastery was built on the peak of the mountain, at the height of 460 meters.

The katholikon is a single-aisled domed church with high proportions, an octagonal outer drum dome, a broad semicircular apse in the sanctuary and a neoclassical two-arched bell tower. The katholikon has preserved within a carved iconostasis from the 18th century. In around 1700 the French traveler Joseph Pitton de Tournefort visited the monastery, who described the location as one of the fiercest in the world.

The first monk was a Merchant Marine from Oia, who was saved by invoking the Panagia and promising to serve her in return. After a while his brother joined him. They lived outside the monastery in two cells, while building another two and renovated the place. On the wall of one cell, across from the church, there was a small plaque with an inscription: "Oia of Thera in 1715 Brother Monks Agapios and Meletios." It was stolen in 2003.

In 1751 the monastery was declared Patriarchal and Stavropegic with a patriarchal sigillion of Patriarch Sophronios of Jerusalem (1774 - 1780). This was renewed in 1798 by Patriarch Gregory V of Constantinople.

The difficulty of accessing this monastery is due to the abrupt area, which over time caused the desolation of the monastery. This became the cause for it to be moved to its current location, on level ground in the courtyard of the Temple of Apollo.

The single-domed church with multi-arched steeple was built in 1850 by the abbot Makarios Arvanitis from Anafi. Most icons inside are the work of Nicholas Karavias, from the latter half of the 19th century. Among these is the earlier Panagia Kalamiotissa dressed in silver.

The new monastery has also become deserted and the abbot Agapios Sigalas has waited for many years to bring in monks. Due to its lack of men it was inevitable the need to integrate it with the Monastery of the Prophet Elias in Thera. It thus became its dependency on 30 April 1930, and is supervised by it.

Since the Turkish occupation until today, the monastery operates as a pilgrimage site with great impact both within and outside of Anafi. A great feast takes place in Anafi to celebrate Panagia Kalamiotissa on September 8th, and the night before there is a procession with the icon of Panagia Kalamiotissa to the peak of Mount Kalamos.

To the left of the monastery is the Church of Saint Makarios and below is the old Church of the Life-giving Spring, which serves as its second katholikon. Now it is dedicated to the Holy Martyrs Apollo and Socrates.

North of the monastery stands the Church of Saint Nektarios, where previously there was a windmill. It was built in 1970 by the former abbot John Arvanitis. Furthermore, within the limits of the estate of the monastery 2 kilometers away, is the Church of the Holy Unmercenaries, while in the mountainous northwest side is the Church of Saint Mamas.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.

Mount Kalamos

The old katholikon of the Monastery on Mount Kalamos

The new monastery

The new katholikon

Inside the Church of the Life-giving Spring