Wednesday, March 07, 2007

The Holy, Imperial, Patriarchal and Stavropegic Monastery of St Anastasia Farmakolytria

On the way back from Lakkia on Sunday, we stopped to visit the Monastery of St Anastasia Farmakolytria (roughly, the Curer), which is located near Elder Paisios’ monastery in Souroti.

The first photo is of Pelagia taking in the front of the monastery as we first approached.

The monastery was originally founded in the 9th century. In the late Byzantine period (somewhere around 1300), the Empress Theodora took responsibility for the endowment of the monastery, and – among many good works – had the relics of St Anastasia (celebrated 22 December) transferred there. (They remain in the middle of the katholikon to this day.)

Because of this, the monastery is called a Holy Imperial Monastery (the Patriarchal and Stavropegic bits are due to its falling directly under the authority of the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople). After the Ottoman conquest in the early 1400s, the monastery seems to have fallen into disrepair and disuse, until it was rebuilt in 1522 by St Theonas, who later became metropolitan bishop of Thessaloniki. (The full body of this saint lies in the katholikon.)

The monastery flourished for nearly 300 years with hundreds of monks and many acres of land. Unfortunately, it was destroyed by the Turks during the Greek War of Independence in 1821 and was rebuilt from scratch in 1830. Today, it belongs to the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.

As for our time there, we first wandered around the inside of the monastery, visiting the katholikon and venerating the relics of St Anastasia.

Then we decided to take a hike to visit some of the outlying chapels on the monastery property, and get a view of the monastery from above.

The weather was beautiful, so it was a great time for a walk. About halfway up the hill, we found a little cave with a shrine and spring of holy water. (See the middle photo.) We stopped to refresh ourselves and then continued up to a chapel toward the top. When we arrived, we rested for awhile inside the peaceful atmosphere of the chapel, then headed back down.

The last photo is of the main part of the monastery, taken during our hike.

For many more photos from our day, click here.

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