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June 20, 2017

Monastery of Saint Nicholas Cabasilas in Kavasila of Ilia

The village of Kavasila in Ilia, Greece is named after Saint Nicholas Cabasilas. It was here that Saint Nicholas came towards the end of his life and reposed in the hermitage he founded around the year 1392. In around 1650 the residents of the village built a small church at the borders of the village dedicated to Saint Nicholas Cabasilas, to honor him for having reposed there, although he was not officially canonized until 1983. It is said that the Turks, who did not allow new churches to be built, would tear down this small church, but the residents would build it over and over again.

With the withdrawal of the Turks in the early 19th century, the residents built a larger church over the previous smaller one and it took on the character of a monastery that was occupied by female monastics. It also acquired around 100 acres of property from the donations of the faithful. Due to the miracles done at this monastery through the grace of the Saint, many from the area would come to this monastery and express their gratitude. People who had various health problems, mental illnesses, and even the demon possessed would come and receive healing. The demon possessed in particular would be chained up in the narthex for a period of time till they were healed, and these chains attached to the narthex wall can still be seen today. On the feast of the Saint those numerous people healed would come with their relatives, many coming crawling on their knees or barefoot. However, by World War 2, for some reason, no more nuns inhabited the monastery.

Although abandoned, someone from the village always did take care of the monastery and maintained it. Throughout the 1950's and 1960's additions were made to the monastery and updates were made. In the 1970's a place was built for guests to come and stay, and the Chapel of Golgotha was built. In 2014, the interior of the monastery was dressed with marble from Rhodes by the ancestors of Saint Nicholas Cabasilas. One of the works that took place in the monastery and occupies a special place is the wonderful amphitheater, the only one in the area. It was initiated by President Christos Malliaris, the man who is the leader of the village's cultural affairs. He has taken care to ensure that the cultural heritage of the area is not lost.

The premises of the Monastery of Saint Nicholas Cabasilas are hinged around a square courtyard with a well in the middle; one side of the courtyard closes from the one-storied small church and the other two from the L-shaped wings. Behind the monastery church there is the perpendicular Chapel of Golgotha (built in 1975) and a little further is a field and the open theater. The monastery celebrates Saint Nicholas annually on June 20th.