Friday, November 11, 2022

Saints Nektarios and Amphilochios and the Establishment of the Monastery of Saint Menas in Aegina


Saint Nektarios and the Monastery of Saint Menas in Aegina

When Saint Nektarios went to Aegina, while he was researching to find the place where he would build a monastery, he was received in a vision by Saint Dionysios of Zakynthos, who had formerly been Metropolitan of Aegina, and said to him:

"Come, Nektarios, I have been waiting for you for years, to hand over the island to you."

As Saint Nektarios was talking with Saint Dionysios, he saw a soldier further on and asked Saint Dionysios:

"Who is he?"

"This," he said, "is Saint Menas; he lives here and has a monastery in Aegina!"

Saint Nektarios, while in the deserted Church of Saint Menas in Aegina, near the ancient Temple of Aphaia, had foretold to his Nuns:

"A women's monastery will be built here."

The Nuns who heard this said:

"The imagination of His Eminence is always about monasteries, but it is impossible in this desolate, remote place to form a monastery."


Saint Amphilochios Makris and the Monastery of Saint Menas in Aegina

Years after Saint Nektarios foretold the establishment of the monastery in the area of the deserted Church of Saint Menas, his prophecy was fulfilled by his student and spiritual child Saint Amphilochios Makris. In the summer of 1951, Saint Amphilochios founded the Monastery of Saint Menas in Aegina. The estate was donated by a good Christian, Konstantinos Kalokentis (later Monk Kyrillos).

Much effort was put into building this monastery. In fact, the hieromonk Paul helped him a lot in the labor. The good Elder thought that it was an opportunity to repay the love and hospitality offered to such good Aeginites during the years of his exile. Establishing this monastery, he dedicated it to the name of Saint Menas, because he greatly revered him.

It is said that locked up one night in his cell, in that murky and uncertain time for Greece, when the civil war had not yet ended and the Greeks did not know who was their friend and who was their enemy, and thinking that the monastery was unattainable and the nuns unattended, he heard the gallop of a horse and, leaning out of his window, he saw a young man on horseback walking around the monastery and saying to him:

"Don't be afraid, Amphilochios. I am night and day the guardian of the nuns."

The Elder in a small church humbly and peacefully officiated the liturgy for the souls who followed him. Unfortunately, the good Elder appointed a widowed abbess of Athens, who had, it seems, never read the life of her fellow citizen Saint Philothei. She treated him harshly and contemptuously in her service. In 1968, driving up from the Monastery of Saint Nektarios to the Monastery of Saint Menas, he said:

-Poor child, how many times have I walked up and down this road, sometimes disappointed and sometimes encouraged."

Very quickly the abbess overruled the Elder with various petty excuses and asked that they be placed under the spiritual guidance of Father Philotheos Zervakos, who even tonsured them in the great schema, without the Elder's knowledge, which made him very sad, but as always he kept the silence of the Crucified One. He said many times:

"Not all things need answers, rather it becomes noise and not benefit."

Later, in the mid-fifties, the abbess came down to Patmos with a notary public and demanded that the monastery be registered to them, which he did without any objection. Sick in bed he signed the contract. On his face you could see "I neither disobey nor contradict". In fact, the notary said to the abbess:

"You have to pay some symbolic price to the Elder."

She then took out and gave him her latehusband's watch. Since then, the Elder was amused and said:

-A monastery for a watch, my brother."

A visitor to the Monastery of Saint Menas in Aegina in 1968 was disappointed to find on the walls of the Synodikon there were hung photos of many and various people, except for the builder Amphilochios. The Elder neither commented nor looked into it. His mind was elsewhere.


The Monastery Today

Today, in the center of the monastery there is a church and next to it a small chapel dedicated to Saint Onouphrios. Crowds of pilgrims not only from Aegina but also from the rest of Greece often visit the monastery.
   
The now numerous sisterhood is known for its achievements in the sewing of sacred objects and chanting. Two ecclesiastical arts practiced with particular devotion by the nuns. In the monastery's showroom one can admire their works, starting from pure spoon sweets, cheese products to embroidery and incense. The nuns who chant during the daily services create a special delight and truly every pilgrim who attends leaves the monastery's katholikon impressed.
 
The monastery in the quiet pine forest offers its visitors the peace and tranquility that today's people desperately need.
 

 
 


 
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