Thursday, August 02, 2007

The Holy Monastery of St Stephen's

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Finally, we stopped at the second women’s monastery on Meteora, St Stephen’s. It has been a women’s monastery since 1961, and is the largest of the current monasteries with about 35 nuns.

An inscription near the outer entrance identifies the first inhabitant as an ascetic named Jeremiah in 1191, but as with most of the monasteries in Meteora, it came into its own as a coenobitic monastery in the 16th century.

Since 1798, it has been the proud bearer of the skull of St Haralampos, a priest of Magnesia who was martyred for Christ around 200 AD. He is extremely popular among monastics, and I was told on Mt Athos that he’s the only saint which all of the Holy Mountain celebrates with an all-night vigil. We were very blessed to venerate this relic, which was set out in front of the iconostasis in the main church. This church was new – in fact, so new that an iconographer was working on some of the frescoes while we were there. It was very interesting to see him at work on the faces of the saints.

In the photos, we have at the top a photo of Pelagia with the monasteries in the background.

The second photo was taken while walking into the monastery. (There were no steps to climb on this one!)

The third and fourth were taken in the courtyard of St Stephen’s.

Well, that does it for the trip to Corfu and Meteora! You can see all my photos from the trip here.

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