Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Pilgrimage to St John the Russian

During the kids' Christmas break, we took a trip down to Evia to venerate the incorrupt relics of St John the Russian. To break up the trip, we first stopped in the ancient town of Aidipsos, which has been famous for thousands of years for its thermal springs. It is mentioned by numerous ancient writers, such as Plutarch, Strabo, and Aristotle.

According to mythology, the goddess Athena asked the god of fire Hephaestus, to bring to the earth’s surface warm waters suitable for soothing and healing, so that her protégé, the legendary hero Hercules could come and rest after each feat. The god Hephaestus did what his beloved sister asked. He hit the bowels of the earth with his divine hammer and immediately warm thermal waters sprang.
According to the historian Plutarch, in antiquity, Edipsos was a place where people from all over Greece met to bathe, to relax, discuss and have fun. The famous Roman general Sulla used the baths for the same purpose. Today, there are ruins of the baths, bearing the name ”Baths of Sulla.” Aidipsos was visited even by the Emperors Hadrian, Marcus Aurelius, Septimius Severus, Pertinos, and the empress Julia Dovna. There are also pedestals of statues of Constantine the Great and the Byzantine emperor Theodosius.

Above is a photo from the ferry.

Apart from the history, the most important for the kids was the fact that it had a playground!

Here we are inside the cave of Sulla.

At the entrance of the "cave" are two massive pedestals of statues with inscriptions in honor of the Roman Emperor Hadrian and Septimius Severus, dedicated by the municipality Istieas.

Here the kids are running on top of the cave mound. To the left, you can see the town's church dedicated, appropriately, to the Holy Unmercenary Healers.

The city has a complex system of pipes that channel the 80 some hot springs to various locations. Here can you see the steam rising out of the ground from pipes that are near the surface. Some of the town's hotel even have the hot spring water piped directly into their hotels for their own spas.

Here is Pres. Pelagia and Damiani in front of the ruins of all old bath house.

You can see the steam rising from the water as it is channeled over to the town's spa area.

Several springs well up along this small stretch of beach.

Here's one bubbling up from the ground. Even though it was December, you could reportedly boil an egg just by placing it there.

And here's another spring emerging from a rock and emptying into the ocean. Although the ocean was quite cold, the areas where the hot springs entered the ocean were nice.

We then continued our trip down to venerate the incorrupt relics of St John the Russian. You can read his inspiring life here. His relics are not housed in a monastery, but rather in what is called a "shrine," which is closer to being a parish church.

For more photos, click here.

No comments: