Friday, March 02, 2007

The Holy Monastery of the Annunciation in Ormylia

On Sunday after the Liturgy, five of us piled into one of these ridiculously small European cars and headed an hour east to Ormylia, to visit the famous women's monastery. It's relatively new (founded in the 1970s), but very well known in Greece. They currently have about 120 nuns, many of whom are doctors. They run a free hospital and medical research center which specializes in care for breast cancer. See here for more details on this ministry. They also run a foundation for the study and preservation of traditional Byzantine iconography. See here for more info.

Their abbess is the daughter of Fr. Galaktion, the spiritual father at Simonos Petras on the Holy Mountain. I met him when I was there in December, and he is one of the sweetest, most gentle souls I have ever seen. He was a baker, married and a father of five, before he and his wife decided to pursue monasticism. His wife went to Ormylia, where she was later joined by her daughter, who became abbess.

When we arrived, we looked around for awhile and then visited with one of the sisters for about 45 minutes. We browsed in the bookstore, which features many of the nuns' handiworks, and then went to Vespers at 3 PM. The chanting was probably the most beautiful I've ever heard -- right next to the men's chanting at Simonos Petras.

Anyway, as for the photos:

The top one is of Pelagia standing in the courtyard between the arhondariki (guest house) and the bookstore. She's copying the design that one of the nuns installed with natural stones.

The middle photo is of one of the monastery's baptisteries -- the first, I believe. The story I heard was that it was built in one night, so that a priest would be able to baptize a catechumen before he had to leave the next day.

The bottom photo is of an absolutely amazing design, again installed by a nun with natural colored stones, which sits in front of the katholikon. It's not really captured by the photo, but the design (which must be about 10' by 12') actually has depth as well. The figures rise off the ground!

For many more pictures of our day, click here.

1 comment:

papa herman said...

Thank you for sharing.

I enjoyed reading and seeing many things in this post: The work that the Nuns do. Fr. Galaktion and his wife agreeing to pursue monasticism. The artwork made of colored stones. The baptistry (built in one night), enhanced by the green plantlife growing around the rocks on the grounds.