April 17, 2017

Synaxis of the Panagia Pantanassa at Mystras

Synaxis of Panagia Pantanassa at Mystras
(Feast Day - Bright Monday, or Thomas Sunday if St. George is celebrated on Bright Monday)


Revered Pantanassa the glory of Mystras,
Temple of Pantanassa the glory of the Queen.

Panagia Pantanassa Monastery is a monastery in Mystras, Greece. It was founded by a chief minister of the late Roman Despotate of the Morea, John Frankopoulos, and was dedicated in September of 1428. The name and position of the donor are mentioned in an inscription in the western gallery, and in monograms carved on the impost of a column of the nave. It is the only monastery at Mystras still permanently inhabited, serving as a convent for nuns.

It is an excellent example of various styles of church architecture blending into an architectural unity. This monastery includes a katholicon of mixed architecture with exterior porticoes and a bell tower. On the upper floor the wall paintings date from the mid-15th century. The paintings of the ground floor are from the eighteenth century.

The design of the Pantanassa Church follows the Mystras architectural type, which developed in the churches of Mystras after its inaugural use in the Hodegetria of the Brontochion Monastery. While the architecture imitates that of the Hodegetria, the corner domes barely project above the roof. Festoons decorate the apses, pointed arches frame some windows; and further signs of Frankish influence can be seen in the prominent bell tower. As is common for most Mystras churches, some of the reliefs are reused, while others are works contemporary with the construction of the building.
The organization of the iconographic program and the choice of the individual figures are modeled after those of the church of the Hodegetria, while the iconography of the Christological scenes is related to those of the Peribleptos. Participating in the decoration were at least three painters, most likely of metropolitan origin, for their works exhibit exceptional quality. They brought their knowledge of the most up-to-date trends in the capital to their painting in Mystras’ major fourteenth-century monuments, the Hodegetria and the Peribleptos churches.

If the exterior of the church of the Pantanassa shows an acceptance of Western decorative elements on a Roman/Byzantine structure, the wall paintings adhere to a purely Orthodox tradition. With solid roots in the classical past, and in accord with the humanistic tendencies of the era, the painters of the Pantanassa experimented with the rendering of landscape and space and gave essential roles to color and light, revealing their preoccupation with innovations also found in the contemporary art of the West. This Renaissance spirit and innovative questioning indicate the potential of an art form whose development was abruptly halted by the Ottoman conquest.

Manuel Laskaris Chatzikis died in 1445 and was buried in the narthex of Pantanassa Monastery at Mystra. The inscription on his fresco identifies him as "servant of the Despot, Constantine." In his fresco he is depicted wearing a style of hat that is otherwise only seen in portraits of John VIII Palaiologos, his brother Thomas, and their father, Manuel II. The hat is generally called a skiadion. Manuel Laskaris Chatzikis was an aristocrat from Constantinople.

Tradition has it that Theodora Tocco, the first wife of Constantine XI Palaiologos, was buried at the Pantanassa Monastery. However, the historian Phratzis records that her mortal remains were buried in 1429 in the Monastery of the Life-Giving Spring (the Agia Sophia of Mystra).

Apolytikion in Plagal of the First Tone
Let us go to Mystras and enter faithfully, into the church of Pantanassa and Mother Theotokos, reverently venerating her divine icon, for as the Mother of God, she covers over the faithful, in all their trials, and supports in their struggles, the pious who praise her.

Kontakion in Plagal of the Fourth Tone
We venerate the icon of the Pantanassa, in the sacred church of Mystra and call out: Rejoice, Mother who gave birth to God the Word. By your intercessions protect your people, and make distinct the Orthodox faith, that we may cry out: Rejoice, the Queen of all.

Rejoice Pantanassa of Mystras, we honor all-venerably your icon the divine, crying out with longing we run to your church, entreating for your protection and your help.