Thursday, June 7, 2012

Saint Nicholas Anapafsas, Meteora

The Holy Monastery of Saint Nicholas Anapafsas, one of four male monasteries in Meteora, is located on top of a vast rock whose summit is of a small surface area. The architectural form of the building stirs the admiration of the visitor, due to the fact that it is moulded to the shape of the height on which the complex rests. 

The stairway, leading up towards the monastery, was sculpted from 1932 to 1936, safeguarding the safe and easy access to visitors and travellers. Before its construction the only way to access the monastery was the traditional vrizoni, i.e. the net that was used to carry both people and necessary victuals.    

The Church is dedicated to St. Nicholas of Lycia, patron saint of the sailors and one of the most worshipped Saints within the Greek Orthodox World. 

The wall paintings by Theophanis surpass all expectation, confounding even the most demanding aesthete and pricking the conscience of even the greatest of unbelievers. They are the only paintings that bear his signature, unlike the ones he painted in other monasteries and in Mount Athos.

All of Theophanis' mural masterpieces are to be found on mainland Greece. In 1527 he decorated the church of Saint Nicholas Anapafsas. His highly valued work has established him as supreme among painters of the Cretan School of Iconography. 
The attribute Anapafsas may have been the surname of Nikanor, one of the founders of the monastery. However, the most accepted explanation is that it arises from the location of the monastery, which offers spiritual and physical repose, just as the entire complex of rocks that comprise  Meteora induces that sense of spiritual contentment and ease sought by everyone. 
It is a fact that this utterly magnificent ecclesiastical and natural scene, scarcely touched by time, leaves an indelible impression on all who linger there. 

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