Wednesday, December 2, 2015

St Andreas Monastery, Kefalonia

The monastery of St Andreas in Kefalonia was founded during the Byzantine epoch. However, it was re-established in 1579 AD when three local spiritual sisters (Benedict, Leondia and Magdalen) bought the land where the chapel of the Apostle Andrew once stood and founded a small nunnery. In 1639 the Greek Romanian princess Roxane, renamed sister Romila, began her monastic life at this monastery. The wealthy princess dedicated a large amount of money to St Andreas monastery, bringing a valuable spiritual treasure from Mount Athos, i.e. the relics from the right foot (sole) of Apostle Andrew, which still is located within the katholikon of the monastery.

The monastery also has an ecclesiastical Byzantine museum founded in 1988, located right next to and in the old Church of the monastery, which survived the 1953 earthquake, destroying may buildings, villages and towns in Kefalonia. The icons, treasures, vestments and ecclesiastical objects date between the 14th and 20th centuries AD.
During the British rule of the island there was a conflict between the nuns and the British, due to the negative attitude the nuns had towards the British rule. This resulted in the interruption of services within the monastery and the covering of the wall icon-paintings with asbestos in 1832. Currently these frescoes are displayed showing the richness of the local Orthodox iconographic tradition.

The monastery has also a philanthropic side to it, whereby it currently has a nursing home, housing about 90 people. The monastery undertook this endeavour after the nursing home from the capital city of the island was destroyed from the past earthquakes. It is a further indication that the Church steps up and shows its true philanthropic beliefs and practices within our modern secular world, helping our fellow man. 

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