Friday, February 28, 2014

Parish Trip to the Monastery of the Late Elder Athanasios Mitilinaios

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Yesterday, we took a parish trip to the Monastery of the Dormition of the Theotokos and St. Dimitrios perched on a hill just outside the seaside village of Stomio. The monastery is famous as the home of the late Elder Athanasios Mitilinaios (+2006).

We left Portaria at 1:30, stopped in Volos to pick up some people, and arrived at our coffee stop at 3:00, at a mall in Larissa, which is about halfway to the monastery. It was a beautiful sunny day, and Benny and Phoebe (Paul was home with a slight cold) spent the whole playing at the outdoor playground.

Our driver and my friend, Fr. Stavros, and I took some coffees to go and sat outside with the kids, while most of the others had a coffee at this cafe. We were also joined by my new friend Fr. Dcn. Nikolaos and his family. 

We arrived at the enormous monastery at 5:00 just as it was re-opening from the midday rest. The monastery is quite historic. We know that the area has been settled since at least by the 6th century BC, since a graveyard from that period was found nearby. It also seems that the monastery was built on the ruins of an ancient pagan temple, possibly dedicated to Poseidon. Around the 4th or 5th century, a small church was built on the site of that temple. Later, a monastery developed. Tradition dates the monastery to the reign of Justinian (6th century), but others date it later. 

The inscription above the door into the old part of the monastery dates its founding to 1492, the same year Columbus "discovered" the New World. In the 16th century, the monastery held 300 monks. Today, it has about 10.

The grave of Elder Athanasios, located in the courtyard of the new part of the monastery.

Another view of the new part of the monastery, which is the first part one enters.

And here we are again in the new courtyard, with the door to the old part on the right. A chapel is located in the background to the left. One of the monks gave us a talk in there about the history of the monastery and the importance of the fast before we saw the rest of the monastery.

The kids running around the courtyard.

Here we are entering the monastery's (past and future) main church, which is being reconstructed. In the background you can see the cells that once encircled the main church.

Our friend Babis having a good time on the bus with other parishioners.


Μονή Αγιου Δημητρίου Στόμιο The Catholicon (main church) follows the Athonite type, with three apses and 4 corner chapels. Its upper part has been destroyed, but is currently renovated by the 7th Ephoria of Byzantine Antiquities. Its façade bears a loft extending to a part of the north and south sides. According to an inscription kept at the monastery, the Catholicon dates from 1543. Its wall paintings from 1758 were destroyed during a fire in 1868 and only traces are salvaged in the four chapels. The paintings belong to the workshop of the painter Theodoros. The 1492 inscription salvaged at the gate testifies to the Byzantine past of the monastery, whose Catholicon was discovered during  the excavation works under the modern church.
Special characteristics of the monument
One of the most representative samples of Byzantine architecture, as this was preserved in the 16th century and an important sculptures’ museum (5th, 6th, 11th centuries).
The above is taken from a tourist website. The aerial photo gives a good idea of the monastery's size. The entrance is to the right.

Fr. Symeon, who guided us, showed us the best preserved chapel of the four corner chapels, dedicated to St. Nicholas. The frescoes there from 1758 have been almost completed saved and restored, and feature scenes from the life of the saint.

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