On Sunday afternoon, I took Rebecca to visit the Monastery of the Honorable Forerunner in Serres, which is about 1.5 hours north of here.
My friends Paris and Dimitris also came along for their first visit to the monastery. We arrived around 4:30 or 5:00 and venerated inside the main church (see Rebecca just outside in the first photo), and then decided to go for a walk around the outside of the monastery until Vespers began at 6:00. From the front (second photo is at the entrance) or inside the monastery, it seems not particularly large, but from the back one can really appreciate its scope.
Built in the 13th century by two Athonite monks, the monastery was once home, at its peak, to a brotherhood of 700 monks. Over 2000 monks worked out their salvation with fear and trembling (Phil 2:12) at this monastery, including St Raphael, before entered a period of decay in the early 20th century. About 30 years ago, Elder Ephraim of Philotheou reestablished it as a women's monastery, and it now has 29 nuns and several novices.
The third and fourth photos are from our walk around to the back of the monastery.
The bottom photo is of the inside of the monastery, just as you enter the front gate.
At 6:00, we had the Ninth Hour, Vespers, Paraklesis to the Panagia, and Small Compline, and then we were invited into the guest house to visit with our friend, the American nun Katherine.
Sister Katherine is a young American convert to Orthodoxy who came to Greece 5.5 years ago to become a nun, and we have been fortunate to befriend her in our time here. Unfortunately, our last visit to her and the monastery was two years ago, before I was ordained a deacon!
We spent about 1.5 hours visiting with Sister Katherine and the monastery's "second" (in command), Sister Vrienni, and Sister Pahomia (who spent some time at the women's monastery in Florida while we were in Florida), before heading back home close to 9:00.
For a few more photos, click here.