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On Saturday, we went on the second of what we hope to be monthly parish pilgrimages to monasteries and other holy sites. This time, we went to the Holy Monastery of the Archangels, just over an hour away from Portaria.
This women's monastery was built on the ruins of an existing monastery just 20 years ago or so by the spiritual daughters of a married priest, Fr. Antonios, who, now retired from his duties in Volos, lives and serves at the monastery with his wife. The monastery is particularly well known for its radio station, 87.5, which broadcasts all its services, as well as readings from Synaxarion, homilies, etc. Many people in my parish have the radio station on constantly.
We arrived around 4:00 and venerated inside the monastery's original, small church (above and below). We were then taken to the archontariki, or reception area, where we were treated to coffee, cookies, and a talk by the abbess of the monastery (see photo at top). Abbess Nikodimi noted that archontariki means reception area for archons, or leaders, VIPs, etc. Every visitor to the monastery is to be treated like an archon, and thus the archontariki is typically very plush, in order to demonstrate philoxenia, or hospitality, to the monastery's guests. She noted, however, that the nuns' own quarters, were quite spartan in comparison.
After the coffee, we stopped by the monastery's well-stocked bookstore, and then headed to the new, large main church for Vespers.
Here's a photo of our chanter and his wife just outside the main church. Just like from our house, you can see the gulf in the background.
Fr. Stavros, our driver, and I were both honored to be invited to serve Vespers with Fr. Anthony, live on the radio. We were a bit nervous, but everything went well. Fr. Stavros even got a text message from a friend who recognized his voice on the radio.
After Vespers, we stopped at the nearby village of Agria, on the waterfront, for dinner, before heading back to Portaria.
We were fortunate to have 60 people on the trip, actually more than I had planned, and thus there was some confusion as people jockeyed for seats. With Greeks, I now realize that I have to be a sort of referee or traffic cop, much like in the line for Holy Communion or antidoron. :)