MONASTERIES AND SHRINES
Hermits Of Patmos And Hermitages
The Older Hermitages In the South of Patmos
The Holy Cave of the Apocalypse, is an awesome place where the voice of God was heard and is considered to be the first hermitage. The island of Patmos is next to the calm Aegean Sea, with its abundance of small and big islands under the wide spotless sky, and further the mountain chains of the east on which the seven churches bloomed and to which the Apostle of Love wrote his two Holy books.
In this cave today’s worshipper notices with awe the triple split in the rock which was formed by the terrifying Apocalypse, as a symbol of the Holy Trinity. Since then the Apocalypse has become the attracting pole and the sacred location for those who desire peace.
In this Holy place, much earlier, a little church was built which is honored every year on the 26th of September in memory of the metastasis (translation) of the Evangelist, Saint John. Later, in the time of Saint Christodoulos (1088), another little church was added to honor the Mother of the Virgin Mary, Saint Anna.
With the passing of time, the chain of hermits at the Apocalypse built more cells and little churches and in this way the present group of buildings was formed which is the Apocalypse today. Near the grounds of Apocalypse to the right as you approach there are the buildings of the school of the Nation of Patmos, which was founded in 1713 by Deacon Makarios Kalogeras, and from which we only find its ruins today. Around the Apocalypse there are little churches: Theologos, Saint Anna, Saint Artemios, and Saint Nicholas.
The first written mention about the deaths of the hermits in the Apocalypse is found in the Brevium: March 23, 1578 - Father Geramios. «Father Serafim from Kos died in the Apocalypse about 1634 (April 30, 1656).
The Archbishop of Samos, Joseph Georgirinis Milius, lived in the Holy Cave of Apocalypse in 1671. He wrote a description of the island of Patmos in which he mentioned the hermitage and said «besides this Monastery (the Abbey of the Theologian) there are some small hermitages where a few monks live. These kind are first the hermitages of the Holy Cave of Apostle John and second the Holy Cave in which it is said the Evangelist John wrote his Apocalypse. There is also a small Monastery in which only one monk lives. The locals worship this place deeply and they say that a fig tree grows and it’s figs naturally show the letters of the word Apocalypse.»
In the Brevium, the following are mentioned: On November 8. 1672 the Reverend Father Ioakim Matilas died in Theoskepasti (Apocalypse). The priest of Samos, Ignatios from Smyrma, stayed for a while in the Apocalypse (he died in 1708). The founder of the Patmiada, Makarios Kalogeras, lived and died in the Apocalypse in 1737.
Daniel, Metropolitan of Bizyes, from Patmos lived in the Apocalypse for a while. «He built buildings at the Holy Apocalypse, where he lived never to be forgotten († August 13, 1813).»
The Apocalypse was used occasionally as a place for peace by the hermit Theokitsos from Axario of Asia Minor, who finally died (March 29, 1917) in the Apocalypse near the ruins of the Patmiada.
In the Apocalypse, the monk Ignatius Gazos the Fryos, who for 45 years lived in the hermitage of Apollo, died on December 11, 1918.
On May 25, 1943, the monk Isidoros Stratos died in the Apocalypse. He had lived in the hermitage of Apollo, under the Supervision of Makarios Antoniadis.
Finally, the monk Amphilochios Makris, director of Apocalypse and the founder of the Holy Monastery «Evangelismos» Mother of the Beloved, renovated the church of Saint Anna and redecorated the walls with murals in 1925.
During our days, the Apocalypse stopped being a hermitage. It became a single monastery of Saint John. Today, it is supervised by the Monk Efthimios. This Holy place where God’s voice was heard has become an international Christian shrine. Justly, Saint Christodoulos comparing Sinai with Patmos, has considered Patmos superior because not a shadow, but truth and grace were revealed there.
2. The Hermitages aroundthe Apocalypse
Around the Holy Cave of the Apocalypse are other caves, which perhaps drew those who desired the life of the hermit. In one of these, the English Pilgrim Aaron Hill, before 1703, met the old hermit from Zakinthos named Anthony Jacob Malavizas. «As he was going toward the Apocalypse he saw a cave, which looked like a hermit’s home. When he reached closer he read above the entrance a Latin phrase: Hic et in caelum quies (here and in heaven peace). As he entered he saw a lantern shining upon a man rising from a coffin. The old hermit lived in this cell for 32 years living on wild roots and water. Also, he always slept in the black coffin to remind him of the futility of life.»
From oral tradition we learn that these caves around the Apocalypse were continually inhabited by hermits. The monk Bartholomew of the Holy Monastery of Saint John, tells us that when he was still a child in the Monastery he visited with father Amphilochios Makris a cave to the east and under the rocks of the Apocalypse which had a wooden door at its entrance and where a hermit once lived.
3. The Hermitage of Petras
In chronological order the next Hermitage of Petras is in the southern part of Patmos in the bay of Grikou, at the rock of Kallikatzou. The rock, ten meters high and eighty meters in circumference, is called Petra because it consists of one solid self made rock and Kallikatzou perhaps because many birds called Kallikatzoudes which feed from the sea make their nests there.
Saint Christodoulos is his Ypotyposis addresses those who desire to become hermits and he says, «This island has many quiet deserted places and locations which are recommended to those who desire peace and quiet.»
So very early this steep rock, which rises between the earth and sky, attracted the attention of those who wanted peace and it became the shelters for hermits from the time of the Saint. The Saint, in the codicil of his secret will mentioned the Hermitage of Petras.
Today at Petras, traces of human existence are found, probably those of hermits. There are places for shelves carved into the rock with much diligence, openings for ovens, wells and pipes to transport water, and even openings and bases for the beams which supported the roofs of the hermitages.
At the southeast side, at the foot of the rock, in the sea the foundation of a small church of the Virgin of Falahtomenis or Filassousis remains, and the post base of Holy Altar. This small church would be used by the monks of the hermitage who lived «with need, sadness, hardships and wandering in deserts, mountains, caves and openings of the ground.»
4. Kathisma Asomatos (Bodiless Powers)
This group of small buildings (Kathisma) has stood for about 900 years and is located in the southwest part of Patmos, near the Monastery of Evangelismos.
The founder was a monk of the Monastery of Saint John, Saint Savas, a contemporary of Saint Christodoulos. Saint Christodoulos respected him deeply. This monk built the Kathisma with cells and a small church (6 x 3.47 meters) to honor the Archangel Michael and especially to the miracle in Chonais, Phrygia. On a mural at the right and under the scene of the miracle in Chonais, one can see the founder Savvas offering the small church to the Archangel. This no longer exists.
His will has survived. It was written between 1119 - 1127. From this we are informed of the amount he spent building the little church of Asomatos; the cells, the surrounding walls, the cultivation of the gardens and the hospitality of the guests who came to worship and relax. We also learn that he had a library with more than enough books, some of which were used in worship. He bequeathed these books to Asomatos. «I leave the Ochtoechos, the Menaia, the Triodion, the Gospel, the Apostle and the Prophets, to the Asomatos to be used by the future chanters living there.» He appointed Theoktistos, who later takes his place, «to serve as monk and to chant; and to the Monk Loukas, to care for the gardens.»
We should note that in the garden of Asomatos there is a spring called «Hagia Patros» which according to tradition, sprang as a miracle of Saint Christodoulos. Generally, we see from his will that Savvas «was a zealot for asceticism, easily trained, well mannered and hospitable.»
After Savas, according to his wishes, Theoktistos and Loukas probably lived at the hermitage Asomatos. We do not know who lived after them. The oral tradition tells us that officials of Byzantium were guests at the hermitage. Also, Saint Leontios lived there and he replaced Theoktistos on May 14, 1190.
From the Brevium we learn about monks who later lived at Asomatos: Kallinikos of Leros, next Nikodimos and others. During the year 1634, in the will of Archon Ignatius Kontoleos, when Melletios was the Abbot, we learn the Monastery was left money to be used for oil to always keep the vigil lights of the little church lit.
In 1678, the Archbishop of Samos, Joseph Georgirinis in his description of Patmos mentions the hermitage of Asomatos.
In the later years, the Monastery of Saint John, which owns the little church, appointed a monk to take care of the whole place. The last guardian was the monk Gerassimos Schinas, (+8 November 1957), who renovated the Kathisma. From 1972, the Monastery of Evangelismos, which is nearby, took over the responsibility and renovated the Kathisma again.
The Hermitage of Asomatos remains a remarkable architectural monument to the Byzantine Age of the 12th century. It is also a place for prayer and because it is rich with the grace of the arching and spreads out the sighs of the holy hermits who lived here for centuries.
5. The Gardens of the Saint:Saints Anargyroi, the Virgin Mantalaki and the Virgin Kykkou
A ravine is formed on the west part of the island, which with the small river of Kera Leousa end in a small meadow at the Gardens of the Saint and a bay with the same name in front of the Ikarian Sea.
There from the time of Saint Christodoulos, with his own labor and care, the land was cultivated and by a miracle three big springs came up «Agiasma» - the water of the Saint and the water of the Holy Father, which still exists today. For this reason, the valley was named the Gardens of the Saint.
Guerin describes the Gardens of the Saint this way: «This valley is like an oasis where the eye wants to rest after the view of dry rocks; about twenty orange and lemon trees, fig trees and carob trees form a forest know as Forest of the Saint.
A few monks would stay to cultivate the gardens. It is said that Saint Christodoulos himself lived in these gardens. So with the passing of time, Kathismata were established in the gardens. Saints Anargyri (Holy Unmercenaries), the Virgin of Mantalaki and the Virgin of Kykkou.
From the Brevium we are informed that the Kathisma of Saints Anargyri existed during the 16th century. We also learn about monks who lived there such as Iakovos from Kalymnos, next Gerasimos Mileos and later Nikodimos Kambouris.
In 1678, Georgirinis describing the hermitages of Patmos mentions the Gardens as follows: «In one place named Gardens (Kipi) where all the necessities of the monks are produced there are some churches for the farmers where they can hear the Divine Liturgy at certain hours, before or after their work”. In other words, little churches existed there from the seventh century.
The Holy Unmercenaries are located on a scenic hill, with a small church 9.5x2.15 meters next to which on the south side are a few cells.
Near the beach is found the church of the Virgin of the Cross or Mantalaki. «On September 8, the birthday of the Virgin, a celebration is held here. Its dimensions are 6.20x2.70 meters with a large narthex and several cells. It was named after its founder, Iakovos Mantalakis (died 1674) and it also has the name of the Cross because it celebrates in September. Near the little church is a spring.
On the right side of the bay is the Kathisma of the Virgin of Kykkou. The little church is 4.20x2.80 meters with an narthex and an icon of the Virgin, a copy of the famous Virgin of the Monastery of Kykkou Cyprus, «The Virgin Eleousa,» which is said to have been painted by the Evangelist, Luke. In the altar of the little church and on the holy table, is a wooden cross .50x.30 meters with the inscription «March 1900». This Cross was carved by the hermit Theoktistos and given to Sifounio, ancestor of Mihalis Sifounios while serving at Petrocaravo. Beside the little church on the south side there is a two storey tower and a spring which existed from the time of Saint Christodoulos.
«The island’s dryness was quenched by everlasting springs created by his miracle and transformed fruitless plants into hardy ones and trees with abundant fruit.» From the hymn of the Death of the Saint.
6. The Hermitage Evangelistria
This kathisma is on the southwest side of the island of Patmos where the Holy Monastery “Evangelismos (Annunciation) of the Mother of the Beloved” (Christ) is found today. It is built like a patio on a ravine around which rise huge rocks, whose feet are washed by the little river of “Kera Levousa.” The ravine and the little river end at the Gardens of the Saint and the homonymous bay in front of which is spread the of Ikarian Sea. On the right the light from the Holy Monastery of the Virgin Hozovitisa can be seen. On the west side, through the haze, Naxos can be seen. On an extremely clear day Paros can be seen and northwest, Ikaria spreads out. This kathisma as it is built on steep rocks can not be invaded and can only be reached from the east side, where the entrance is found. No information is known about the date or the founder of this kathisma. The first mention is found in the Brevium of the Monastery of Saint John. Here we read, “On April 18, 1578, father Joachim of Evangelistria died.”
More proof exists in an inscription from the year 1613, which can be found in the interior upper lintel of the entrance of the little church of Saint Luke which was built by Nikiforos Hartofylax of Crete. He was a monk of the monastery of Saint John, and later he became the bishop of Laodicea after his miraculous recovery from a fatal illness. (+October 28, 1628).
On the exterior upper lintel of the entrance of the Church, Evangelistria was the inscription 1614 which no longer exists. After Nikiforos Hartofylax built the Church of Saint Luke in 1613, he renovated the church of Evangelistria and he enriched it with the iconostasis and icons such as «the Presentation of the Mother of God» painted by Michael Damastinos. He had also built the tower and, within the tower the chapel of St. Antony. The tower was originally built with two apertures for pouring down boiling water or oil, of which one has survived. This was a defence against the Algerian pirates who looted our islands.
In his will, Lord Ignatius Kontoleos (1634) left three “mistata” of olive oil to Evangelistria, so that the vigil lights would be lit day and night. In 1678, Joseph Georgerinis with reference to this hermitage wrote: “Another hermit that lived at the hermitage of Evangelismos was the monk Joachim Simon, student of Makarios Kalogeras at the Patmiada. He founded the school of Mytilene. He was also the Abbot of the Monastery of Saint John the Theologian. Towards the end of his life he came and rested at the hermitage of Evangelistria. In a document dated March 25, 1763, along with his other offerings, he left the lady Evangelistria “the hope and courage of my wretched heart.”
In the Brevium of the Monastery of the Theologian it is mentioned that on April 2, 1763, our brother Joachim Simon, the former Abbot, has fallen asleep at Evangelistria. He was humble, honest, patient, an exorcist of demons, charitable, wise, holy follower of ancient teachers and monks and pious. He became a Saint and God placed him in the tabernacles of the Saints.
In the middle of the 19th century, Guerin, speaking about the hermitage, stated that he found the hermitage in ruins. He saw ancient marble relics. In the later years, the Monastery of the Theologian assigned a monk for the supervision of the Hermitage.
The last monk who supervised was Efthymios Skopelidis, who died in 1937. From then a new period starts in this holy place of Evangelistria with the founding of the women’s convent “Evangelismos (Annunciation) of the Mother of the Beloved.” The sisters, today, walking in the steps of those ancient hermits try very hard themselves to walk in the same narrow path. With their faith, they hope to live with them in the light of the presence of Christ.
7. Saint Paraskevi of Kavos
To the left of the “Gardens of the Saints” the ancient seat of Saint Paraskevi of Kavos is found. This place is made up of a little church and cells. The little church is dedicated to the memory of Saint Paraskevi. Its dimensions are 8.37 by 3.32 meters with narthex. Part of the little church is made of large stones which were hewn by ancients according to the observation of Guerin. The floor is laid with mosaic made of pebbles and small rocks. On the iconostasis the icon of Saint Paraskevi is found. It is of the 16th century Cretan school.
At this place the holy monk of the Monastery of the Theologian and president of the church Kyrillos (+1624) died. This information is taken from the remains of an inscription which can be read at the entrance of a cell: «τοι με βλέπεις κελοι...μ... σιε πα κυρικλισάρχις IC XC NIKA». This cell was erected using huge stones and is still in fairly good condition. Inside is a vaulted ceiling, and the east side floor is raised about one meter and ends in a point. Next to it are other preserved cells. Georgerinis, in 1678, mentions this among other hermitages.
Down at the Cape of Saint Paraskevi, many saints with flowing tears erased their pain and now rejoice before the throne of God “and worship Him day and night in his Church... and God blotted all tears from their eyes”.
The icon of the Saint works miracles. The farmers and herders who have lived there for many years tell of her many miracles.
In the northwest part of the little church of the Saint is saved a part of the mosaic floor. It is made of little pebbles in which the ancient people then saw light.
Because numerous fragments of pots were found, it is believed that a small town existed there many years ago. Georgerimis, in 1678, mentions this among other hermitages.
8. Petrokaravo (Stoneship)
Is a little island to the west of Patmos. On one side it looks like a ship. Legend says it was a pirate ship with forty pirates which was coming to plunder Patmos, but Saint Christodoulos with his prayers turned the ship and the pirates into stone and the life boats into little islands around it.
Petrokaravo was likely a small monastery because there are remains of cells and a little church (Panagia of Petrokaravo).
Petrokaravo is also called Daskaleio. This name is probably taken from the Italian word scoglio (reef). It is more likely that it is Daskaleio because the monks that lived there during the Turkish occupation were called daskalous (teachers) by the Turks. Wrongly it is mentioned as a secret school. There were no Turkish residents in Patmos and the Patmian Theological Seminary was built without any difficulty. Therefore, there was no reason for there to be any secret schools.
Ebony trees, wild cabbage, and licorice grow on the little island. Ebony trees, which are very hard, were originally brought from America, and planted by the monks and used to make pulleys, grow on the island. There are no insects, ants or reptiles on the island. Theoklistos from Axario, Asia Minor lived here for one year in 1902. Rarely can anything sail close to Petrokaravo, because there is no harbor. For this reason, saints were attracted to it because people would not bother them. This need that made Saint Martinianos (13 February) live on this dry rock in the sea also made the holy monks live there as well. The monks were showing their deep faith when they chanted that God would provide their basic needs.
9. The Hermitage of Loukakia
The little island of Saint Loukas is called Pilafi, because of its cone shape (it looks like a dish of pilaf). Around the island are shallow rocks called Loukakia. Georgirinis mentioned in his writings (1678): “Before the harbor of Sapsila, there is a little island with a church dedicated to Saint Luke. It got its name from the little church of Saint, Apostle and Evangelist Luke, which was built in the cave located on the northeast side of the island.” Guerin (before 1856) mentioned that there was a small church of Saint Luke on the little island. Traces of a little church are found in one of the caves.
Today, on the shore across from the island Pilafi, Saint Luke, Loukakia the monk and former Abbot of Saint John the Theologian Monastery, Father Paul has built a little church with a cell to honor Saint Nektarios of Pentapolis. His purpose was to revive the old Hermitage so that the voice of the hermit would be heard chanting from the bottom of his heart: “To you Saviour in Heaven I send the eyes of my heart. Save me with Your light.”
10. The Hermitageof Panagia Epsimia
This hermitage with a small church and cells is located near the sea in the little harbor between Mavro Kavo and the Kavo (Cape) of Epsimia on the southern part of Patmos. Guerin mentions it was founded by Saint Christodoulos.
The little church is named Panagia Stavros (of the Cross) because it celebrates the birth of the Virgin Mary in September, which is the month of the cross. The celebration occurs at the time of the late season ripening of crops, which in Patmian dialect are called “Episim” crops. For this reason Panagia is also called “Epsimiani” or “Epsimia”. The icon of the Theotokos is famous and performs miracles. It was found in 1665 by a fisherman named Kitsimbiris. He had repeated visions and dreams which showed him where to find the miraculous icon. He built the church on that place. The icon belonged to the family Vestis and now belongs to the Monastery of Evangelismos.
Smirnakis, who visited the hermitage before 1935, mentions that he saw the Church built with a half cylindrical dome measuring 5.65x2.96 meters with entrance doors from the north and south. He also noticed remains of other vaulted structures from which he concluded it must have been a hermitage. Near the little church there was a spring of drinkable water and there were also tombs. He also tells us that in 1912 the monk Ieremias built a shelter. Today from all the old structures only the little church of Panagia is saved.
Near the place of the old hermitage, the abbot of the Monastery of Saint John the Theologian, Isidoros Krikris (since 1990 also the Bishop of Tralleon) tried to revive the old hermitage. He built a church for Saint Isidoros Pylousiotis and a cell to pray.
As in earlier times and again today, the hymns of Panagia of Stavros are heard on the Kavos of Epsimia: “From the generations of Jesse and David today is born the child of God and Mary. Heaven and earth rejoice together and all nations praise her.”
Across from the harbor of Skala, the island of Hiliomodi can be seen. Ruins of an old hermitage are found there. The land on this island could be cultivated and the monks worked it. A little church dedicated to Saint Panteleimon which measures 4.50x2 meters and a height of 2.5 meters still exists and is mentioned since 1599. Attached to the church are a cell and a windmill.
Miraculous stories about this little island are still being told. According to these stories, the holy fathers of the Monastery of Saint John would throw their capes on the sea so they could sail from Sapsila to Hiliomodi. One excellent harvest produced 1000 bushels of wheat (in Greek this is “hilia modia”, hence the name Hiliomodi). At that time the Abbot accompanied by monks came to the island. One of the monks greedily thought “If there had been one more good rain, even more wheat would have been produced.” When the monks spread their cloaks to cross the sea, the greedy monk had trouble and started sinking. The Abbot was able to reach him and put him on his own cloak and with much difficulty they were able to cross the sea. When the Abbot asked him why he was having trouble crossing, the monk confessed his greedy thoughts. After some time, the Abbot visited the island with his companions (monks). He ordered the greedy monk to attend the kneading and baking of the bread. The Abbot then put three seeds of wheat on one of the loaves of bread that the monks had made and placed it in the oven. When they removed the baked bread out of the oven, they saw the three seeds had sprouted while in the heat of the oven. The Abbot told the greedy monk “For your greediness and evil thought.”
Today, near the old hermitage, a new little church for the Saint has been built along with cell. This was done with the care and dedication of the monk father Panteleimon.
12. The Hermitage of Anydros
In the northwest part of Patmos, across from the valley of Lefkes, is the small island of Anydros, which is 8-10 miles from the shore of Patmos. It is barren and without water. Hence, the name Anydros, which means without water. It rarely rains on the island and can only be used for grazing.
The existence of a hermitage was verified from the following fact. Years ago, a shepherd, Isidoros (Sideris Salavatis) went to Anydros and dug a cave to find water as he was informed. While digging he found a large stone which blocked the entrance of the cave. Digging further, he found an incense burner, handles of vases and an earthen cask.
According to legend, there lived a hermit who, when he wanted to get to Lefkes, would spread his cloak on the sea and would sail across the Ikarion without sinking. He would go to the church of Saint Anthony in Lefkes and after chanting the liturgy would return to his little island the same way he came. He did not sink because God “loved him because he was a holy man.”
13. The Hermitage ofSaint Christodoulos at Alykes
The entire area on the north side of the harbor of Stavros is named Alyki or Alykes. This area was always used by the monks to collect salt. The monk who supervised this job was called ‘Alykaris.’
In the Brevium in the monastery, a documentary book, it is mentioned: in 1568 “Matthew, a Cretan, who was an Alykar died” and in 1603 “on August 2, the monk Nektarios died at Alykes.
A little church honoring Saint Christodoulos is located at Alykes. It measures 5.05x2.95 meters, and is domed, with narthex and an attached cell. On the iconostasis, is a miraculous icon which was found near the caves. It seems that a monk lived in the cave and among the other icons, there was one of Saint Christodoulos. Later, another monk built the little church and brought the icon from the cave and put it on the iconostasis. The icon depicts Saint Christodoulos offering the monastery of Saint John the Theologian as written in the book which he holds.
From the very old man, John Gamberakis, a farmer who worked for the monastery at Alykes (his grandfather, Dimitrios Grillakis, lived there as a farmer for the monastery 100 years ago), we learn about the monk Germanos Skopelitis who lived at Alykes for many years. Gamberakis has many memories of the priceless counsels given to him by the monk from the bottom of his heart. As he tells us, he had heard that a young girl had come to do laundry at Alykes. Suddenly she saw a sweet old man who frightened her so much that she never returned to Alykes to do laundry. It must have been Saint Christodoulos who protected the hermitage.
14. The Hermitage ofthe Prophet Elias
On the highest peak of the island (269 meters), as is customary, a church is built honoring the Prophet Elias of Thesvitan with a hermitage. From the height of the hermitage, the horizon is spread majestically and the view is wonderful. Is there any other place which offers more to the people’s souls to sing day and night from the bottom of their hearts? “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh.”
Guerin describes with the following characteristic lines the ascent towards Prophet Elias: “One walks with difficulty among the huge rocks, which appear in all shapes within a magnificent disorder. One could say they accumulated there, thrown by giant hands. Some are horizontal, some are hollow forming caves, some are smooth and one could say they were hewn. From the courtyards, the horizon is incomparably majestic and wide. It is difficult to withdraw your eyes from the scene, which expands to the limits of one’s imagination and enhances the limits of one’s vision.”
The hermitage consists of the church, cells and a large courtyard which is surrounded by a wall which resembles a fort. The founder of the hermitage who lived and died there was the monk Neophytos Simiakos. On the entrance of the wall there is an inscription on a marble plaque that says: “With the donation and his own expenses, the holy Neophytos Simiakos is remembered, 1746.” And in the Brevium of the monastery, we read: “March 23, 1779 the monk Neophytos Simiakos of Prophet Elias died of natural causes.”
The church is one room with dome measuring 7.45 x 3.56 meters. The iconostasis is wooden covered with gold leaf and has this inscription: “The iconostasis was made golden by the monk Danili, July 1795.” Under the icon of Saint Basil is another inscription: “Painted by Constantine Kidonieou of Crete, 1795”.
The traveler girl who visited Patmos before 1905 and ascended to Prophet Elias and was welcomed by the hermit Akakios Bratsalis (died October 6, 1913) writes: “The view that spreads in front of the Prophet Elias was the best present of my life. Father Akakios was a very polite host. After the church service he led us to the garden. He told us that a Russian asked us to pray for his recovery of an illness. After his therapy he gave a gift to Prophet Elias- two Russian vigil lights.”
15. Vrasta - Antipas monk Kappos
In the area to the west of Chora near Evangelismos is found the hermitage of Vraston. This hermitage is surrounded by rocks which protect it from the wind. Because it faces the sun, the climate is always warm. For this reason it called Vrasta, which means boiled.
From 1676 it is mentioned as the name of the area in the book of deeds of the Community. It is also mentioned in a settlement of debt letter of 1798 as the “Garden of Vrasta.” This hermitage “consists of a two story house in a beautiful location above a ravine connected with an area of fruit bearing trees including citrus trees that are about 150 years old. They are watered with natural springs.” Above Vrasta flows a waterfall between huge rocks formed by a winter torrent of Kyra Levousa.
In 1903 the monastery of Saint John renovated Vrasta so that Father Theoktistos, the monk, would rest there.
The hermitage did not have a church but only the two story house. It always attracted the monks who wanted to rest in the wilderness and communicate only with God. From 1916 to 1919 the monk Antipas Kappos lived there. He was born in Patmos in 1871. He was christened with the name of John. He was first educated in Patmos and continued his education in Athens at the Didaskaleio (school). Because of financial problems, he was unable to finish his studies and receive his diploma. He had to return to Patmos.
At that time representatives of an Educational Society from Libisi of Asia Minor came to Patmos seeking a teacher with a diploma. John Kappos was recommended, but they had reservations because he did not have a diploma. John Kappos suggested that he be given a six month trial period and if they were not satisfied with his performance they could dismiss him. They accepted him and he remained for not only the six months, but for three years. They wanted him to stay longer, but he wanted to return to Patmos and teach in Lipsos. He finally came to stay permanently in Patmos and asked to be accepted as a brother at the Monastery of Saint John. During Great Lent of 1907 he was ordained a monk with the name Antipas and at the same time he taught in Kato Chora (Skala).
Later he went to Mount Athos and joined the followers of Daniel Katounakioti. Returning to Patmos, he lived at the hermitage of Apollo under the guidance of Father Makarios from whom he was given a higher rank.
The monk Antipas was very learned and concentrated on the Holy Fathers of the Church and the Holy Scriptures, especially the Revelation. He worked for seven years interpreting the Book of Revelation. When he finished it, he took this manuscript to Father Daniel at Mount Athos to evaluate it. Father Daniel returned it to him because he found it unsatisfactory. Antipas was not discouraged and worked hard to revise it. For a second time he returned to Mount Athos and again Father Daniel rejected the work as useless and threw it into the fire! Fortunately, Antipas had kept a copy and without being discouraged, he made more revisions and returned for a third time to Father Daniel. Finally, he approved it and said: “Now it is good, Antipas.” Afterwards, Antipas went to Athens and he submitted it to Chrysostom Papadopoulos, the Archbishop of Athens. When the Archbishop saw the topic he told Antipas that he would not approve an interpretation of such a topic. However, after he read the manuscript, he was pleased, and with his approval it was published. Commenting on this work, George Zervos wrote about Antipas: “The interpretation of Brother Antipas was written because of a spiritual need, the kindest reason to reveal to his brothers the light from within him, which enlightens his mind and the soul. The purpose of this book is as pure as wild flowers which grow poor and humble, but very fragrantly like the holy island of Patmos. It will benefit many modest souls who will read this book, not to judge it, but humbly to ask for guidance from the enlightened soul of a hermit. This enlightenment is needed for the difficult road of the spiritual life which leads to top of the mountain and one to see from there the magnificent and majestic horizon of the spiritual world of Jesus’ glory.”
Studying this book, the reader is astonished by the interpretation which is given to this prophetic book. The positions he takes about the events that will occur on our planet gives the impression that this was written by a contemporary well educated theologian and not by a monk seventy years ago.
Later Antipas wrote and published the Orthodox Audit Against Those who Believe the Millennium of Christ and the So-Called Students of the Scriptures, Athens 1925. He also wrote the Makraki Audit. In the monastery other manuscripts of his works still exist, but they are in disarray. He also copied in his wonderful handwriting old manuscripts of sermons of Church elders for the use of the Church and a collection of passages of the Holy fathers. As a chanter of the monastery, Antipas composed music.
The monk was born and raised in the pious environment of the holy island of the Disciple John who was beloved by our Lord. He had cultivated in his sensitive soul the love of monastic life. “He loves Christ to the point that passionately he embraces monastic life... a great success of virginity. The Lord asks for one thing from these dedicated men that they live this life willingly and this is proven with their pure love towards Him and his neighbors.”
The monk Antipas and his contemporary, monk Amphilochios Makris, visited the hermit Theoktistos in his hut at Psalida. They both learned much about prayer and the ascetic life from Theokitsos. For this reason, Antipas was noted for his strict ascetic life. He slept on a bed of boards without a mattress. He always ate fish and never tasted meat. After his meals, which mostly consisted of dried beans, and after waiting a while, he drank a lot of water which cleaned out his stomach. With a clean stomach he prayed. A doctor who saw him was astonished that he was able to get rid of the water.
It must be noted that Antipas was a monk devoted to prayer and for this reason the devil hated him. When he stayed at Vrasta, his sister, who was also the mother of Father Nicholas Mikelis, brought him his food and she overheard him speaking scornfully with the devil.
He considered cigarette smoking a very bad habit and called it, “Incense of the devil” and added “If God were to give another Commandment it would be: Do not Smoke.”
Antipas even paid some people not to smoke. An incident from his life related to smoking was told by Mr. D. Koloumenos, the brother of Sister Agathi.
One summer he was a guest of Father Amphilochios of the Monastery of St. John. One night the brothers went to the top of the Monastery, because of a severe heat spell. While sitting there, they heard the sandals of old Antipas dragging and approaching them. At night he was accustomed to climbing to the top of the Monastery and studying the movement of the stars. He gave useful information to the observatory in Athens. That night as usual he drank a lot of water and cleaned out his stomach in order to pray.
When Antipas was approaching, the monks told Mr. Koloumenos, who had just lit a cigarette: “Mr. Koulomenos, out of respect put out the cigarette and throw it away.”
The ascetic came near and told him: “Guest, thank you very much.”
“It had finished its purpose,” Mr. Koulomenos replied.
“No, it had not finished, and I thank you dear guest,” and Antipas left.
He also despised money. One time a Jew named Sarantes brought material for use by the clergy to sell on the island. Sarantes went to Antipas to sell him material, but he did not have any money. The Jew ironically told him: “Why don’t you come where we are, so you can see jars full of gold?”
“Sarantes,” he replied, “You read Holy Scripture. Do you know what Moses did to the golden cow your compatriots worshipped? He turned it to dust and made them drink it. Well, your gold belongs to this category.”
Patmians have a lot to say about his philanthropic feelings. Generally, the monk Antipas was distinguished by his deep warm love for God and his fellow man. For this reason, he stood as an example for a monk of his time. When he died at the age of 83 on August 3, 1954, he left a legacy worthy to be followed by the generations to come.
16. Panagia Lagkadiotissa
In the area Lagkada of Kambos is found the old hermitage of Panagia (Ever-Virgin) Lagkadiotissa, with a small church dedicated to the Annunciation of Mother of God which belonged to hermit monks. Today it is a private chapel. Two staffs are saved, from wild wood, which the monks usually used during their many hours of praying. They supported themselves with one hand and they supported their whole bodies on the oblong curved handle. Before the little church are single and two storey houses.” This is what Smirnakis saw in 1935 when he visited.
The monk Bartholemew narrates about Father John Nikitaras (married with nine daughters) parish priest of the Church of the Annunciation of Kambos (died December 12, 1981). During his youth, John lived in the Meadow of the Monks. While he was working in a small farm he heard chanting which came from the little church of the Ever Virgin of Lagkadiotissa. People then were pious and they listened. One time, after the taking down of Christ from the Cross on Good Friday, he came to the little farm and suddenly he heard chanting again. He entered the little church, but found no one there. From that day on every Good Friday after the vespers services of the unnailing of Christ from the Cross, he would go to the little church of the Ever Virgin Lagkadiotissa and would say a second vespers of the unnailing.
Such places are sought for by holy figures to experience today, in vain.
On a little island south of Geranos, named Kentrosini (island of cedars) because of the cedar trees that grew there, are ruins of old hermitages that can be seen even today. The hermit Theoktistos from Axarion and Ignatios Gazos from Fryos (+1918) lived at Kentronisi for a while.
What a wonderful place for peaceful meditation the hermits had! A little island with cedars. These cedars were probably planted by other hermits before them to remind the monks of the ‘Cedars of Lebanon’ planted by our Lord.
18. The Hermitage of Sinadinou
This hermitage is located south of Chochlaka where springs existed. Near the springs, ruins of buildings built by the monk Sinadino (he probably came from Sinada of Asia Minor) exist today.
The name Sinadinos can be found in Patmos from the 17th century. In the Brevium it is mentioned that a monk from Sinadinos died in 1665. In the book of deeds in 1676 the name Sinadinos of Kouna is listed. Also mentioned are the names Panagiotis of Nikita, his son Sinadinos and Papasinadinos. According to Smirnakis, the last one who lived in the hermitage was the teacher Kyrillos, a deacon from Patmos, son of Katelanos, who died in Patras in 1881.
19. Spring of Geranos. Theoktistos,the monk from Kalymnos
The little peninsula of Geranos, which is located on the northeastern part of Patmos, goes deep into the sea. On the northwest side are two little islands, Kentronisi and Saint George.
Saint George island is named after the little church of Saint George on the island. Guerin saw this little church when he visited this area before 1856. On the peak of Geranos the little church of the Virgin Mary of Geranos is found. In the northern part of the Livadi of Gerano, or of “Nteli Pothitos” is little spring named after the numerous springs in the area.
The monk Theoktistos Triantafillou lived at the Spring (Pigi). He was born in Kalymnos in 1886. Seeking peace, he came to Patmos to live a peaceful monastic life. He was ordained at Apollou, perhaps by the priest Makarios Antoniadis, who lived there at the time. Later he went to ‘Pigi’ where he lived for many years as a hermit. Later when he was old, he went to the monastery of Saint John, where he served as a doorkeeper, both at the monastery and at the Holy Apokalypse. He is remembered as a tall, skinny, strict man. He died on April 1, 1962.
Theoktistos lived alone without an assistant. He cultivated the earth and at the same time the depth of his soul.
20. Lipso or Lipsi
Lipso is the island of the hermits, full of hermitages. The first mention of Lipso is found in the “Ypotypos” where Saint Christodoulos writes among other things his agreement with the Emperor Alexis Komnenos: “I donated to the community everything. In Kos and Strovilou... donated to me by Royal Edict the whole island of Patmos and the nearby little islands of Narki and Lipso...”
In the biography of Saint Leontios, Abbot of The Monastery of Saint John in Patmos, and later Patriarch of Jerusalem, the island of Lipso is mentioned again. The following story is told in the biography. When Saint Leontios was sent to Lipso it was not inhabited. The monastery had animals which were slaughtered when needed, dried and sold to pay for the needs of the monastery. During this time a monk named Prohoros was sent to work with the animals. He was tough and rude and disobeyed the rules of monastic life. He bothered Saint Leontios insisting on a new pair of shoes. The Saint advised him to abide by the rules, but Prohoros would not listen. Saint Leontios then said it would benefit him to live like a disobedient sheep, wandering in the darkness chased by an angel. What was said by Saint Leontios was done by God.
Throughout the centuries, monks of the monastery who were farmers and shepherds or hermits came to live in Lipso and they built hermitages.
We can verify the following hermitages from the mention of the deaths of monks in the Brevium and from existing hermitages now found in Lipso and from the stories told: From about 1500 there should have been the hermitage of Kimisis (Assumption) in Pomani located in the western part of the island. Around 1600 there is also the hermitage of Panagia Harou (Death) located in the southeastern part of the island. It is named ‘Virgin of Death’ because the icon showed the virgin holding Jesus crucified and not as a baby. In this church from 1943 the pious worshippers can see with deep emotion the miracle of the Panagia (on 9th day after the feast). The dried lilies of the icon on celebration of the Annunciation (March 25) bloom once again on August 24 (the ninth day of the feast or the leave-taking). In 1650 the hermitage of Saint John the Theologian was built by monks in Moschato, located in the northwestern part of the island.
Lipso was not inhabited by lay people, but when Crete was overtaken by the Turks in 1669, Cretans immigrated to Lipso and Patmos. This way the first community of laymen was formed in Lipso. This first inhabitant mentioned is a man named Gero Lios (Elias). From then on the village has remained the same.
A century later the Kollyvades who came from Mount Athos with Niphona and his companions arrived in Patmos about 1775 and went to Lipso. Near the sea in the area of Kimisi at Romani, they built the hermitage Evangelismos (Annunciation) or Kato Panagia. On the. urging of Niphona, Makarios the Corinthian came to live there for a while.
This way Lipso received the beneficial influence of the Kollyvades. Beneath the Church of Evangelismos is a spring named Agrio Nero (wild water). It is still named the same because when it was found it made a loud noise. These hermitages and other places also found on the island are reminders of the holy people and their spirituality. The inhabitants, influenced by the monk hermits, lived pious lives. In difficult times they went to these holy people for guidance. A story is told of a time of drought on the island. The inhabitants asked the hermit who lived at Stavros (cross) to bless them with Holy Water. The monk performed the ceremony and before he finished pouring rain made everyone, but the monks, wet.
The evil one hated this holy little island and for this reason he helped the enemies of the believers also come against the holy monks many times. Many suffered torturous deaths and became martyrs.
In the Brevium some contemporary martyrs are mentioned: “On April 6, 1558, a newly ordained monk from Amorgos was killed by the Agarinous in Lipso.... February 18, 1561 the servant of God the monk Ionas from Leros was killed in Lipso.... On December 8, 1609, the newly ordained Neophytos Fazan was killed by an axe.... In April 1635 Bekir Pasas (Pasha) captured Ionas of Nysiros, beat him to death and buried him in Lipso.... In 1696 the monk Parthenios died of a spear wound to the neck.”
The Brevium not only mentions the above monk martyrs but also lists monks who lived and died in Lipso. The following are listed in chronological order as follows:
• The brother Georgios the Kapouros (+1576)
• The monk Anatolios the Santorneos (+1702)
• The monk Iakovos Amorginos, the Voskos (shepherd) (+1702)
• Papathanasis Simos (+1715)
• The monk Dionysios Delongos (+1718)
• Gerasimos Hierodeacon the Lamp-keeper of Agrio Nero, Kato Panagia (+1760)
• The monk Hatzimakarios the good Steward (+1761)
The monk Matthew, the lamp-keeper
• The Elder Makarios Basilakos (+1837)
• The monk Gavril the Poniros (+1850) and
and finally the priest monk Dorotheos Vlachakis (+1907)
Today, the monk of the Monastery of Saint John the Theologian, Father Nikephoros Koumoundouros serves in the little island of Lipso. He restored old ruined hermitages and little churches. He built new ones and generally takes care of the spiritual needs of the island. This has been accomplished through his efforts and donations from the people of Lipso and from people from all over the world.
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