Monday, October 4, 2021

Monastery of the Panagia Kyparissiotissa and Saint Hierotheos in Megara


The Monastery of the Panagia Kyparissiotissa and Saint Hierotheos is located 8km northweest of the city of Megara in West Attica, in the area of Derveni. According to tradition, Saint Meletios built this monastery in the 11th century in honor of Saint Hierotheos, the first Bishop of Athens, because it was in this location he lived in asceticism and was buried.

The tomb of Saint Hierotheos is located in the katholikon of the monastery, and its most treasured relic is the sacred head of Saint Hierotheos.

Next to the tomb of Saint Hierotheos is the icon of Panagia Kyparissiotissa.

In every monastery when it is built it is customary in the inner courtyard of the monastery near the katholikon to place the so-called cypress tree of the founder to symbolize eternity and longevity but also in the memory of the founder of the monastery. The same happened with the Monastery of Saint Hierotheos. Next to the katholikon of the monastery near the tomb of Saint Hierotheos there was a huge cypress tree called "ktitoriko" (founder).

There, in the 15th century, twenty monks came embracing an icon of the Panagia with the last hope of being saved when pirates had surrounded the monastery and began to climb its walls.

Indeed, as a miracle that they later attributed it to the Panagia, whom they had by their side and begged her warmly within the branches of the cypress, the barbarians did not find them, as the pirates passed by, running from here and there to the monastery to plunder but also to slaughter so that nothing was left as evidence of their vandalism. While they searched to get every bit of the monastery that was useful and while they had heard the voices of the monks before invading the monastery, they could not find them since the prayers of the monks to the Most Holy Theotokos they were  covered them with the whole cypress tree under her protection.

At this spot, after this miracle, the monks built a small shrine where on its dome they painted the Panagia who was named Kyparissiotissa in memory of her miracle, while next to her were painted the patron saint of the monastery, Saint Hierotheos, and his disciple Saint Dionysius the Areopagite, in a prayer posture.

This miracle is commemorated by the monastery annually on October 27th. It also celebrates in honor of Saint Hierotheos on October 4th, and in honor of the Dormition of the Theotokos on August 15th.

The monastery was dissolved in 1833, by decree of King Otto, its monks were merged with the Monastery of Panagia Phaneromeni in Salamina and its complex was deserted. Petros Vlotildis, pastor in Athens and a zealot of monastic life, with the help of pious Christians and many years of efforts succeeded in rebuilding the deserted and ruined monastery. It was rebuilt as a convent in 1930, and during the years of war and occupation it offered many services, including helping twenty British soldiers who were hidden in a nearby cave.

These first nuns, after securing the basic needs for their survival, devoted themselves with great zeal to their preparation, for undertaking social work and offering ministry outside the Holy Monastery. Because their late Elder, who had founded the order "The Apostle Peter", envisioned introducing the nuns of Saint Hierotheos in the central women's prisons of Athens, in order for them to work among the prisoners for their moral and spiritual recovery. And he was the first to think of connecting his nuns with the Rehabilitation Center for girls for the same purpose. He succeeded in both, after a painstaking effort and after having to remove many obstacles and reactions. In 1937, with the blessing of the then Metropolitan of Attica and Megaridos Iakovos, the first nuns took up duties in the women's prisons and the Rehabilitation Center for Girls in Athens, to support, advise, teach, comfort, and support the misguided girls. This ministry lasted even after the death of the founder, Archimandrite Peter (1950).

In 1930 they had dug a well to find water, since they had none at the monastery, but they were unable to find any. Then, while praying before the Holy Head of Saint Hierotheos, the well began to gush with water.

Every March, at the place where the tomb of the Saint is located, a pomegranate blossoms whose miraculous flowers help women who cannot have children. The flowers are collected by the nuns and kept throughout the year.

The current abbess, Isidora, is a well known hymnographer. 
 


Tomb of St. Hierotheos

Head of St. Hierotheos



16th cent. icon of St. Hierotheos

Archimandrite Petros Vlotildis



 


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