Sunday, April 27, 2014

Monastery of the Virgin Mary Girokomitissa – Patra

The Monastery of the Virgin Mary Girokomitissa (which is the Greek word for home for the elderly) was founded in the 10th century A.D., just outside of Patra (the third largest city in Greece, located in the Peloponnese). The area has taken the name from the monastery and hence it is called Girikomeio. It is believed that the monastery, during the Byzantine era had under its auspices a home for the elderly. The monastery is built above the ancient ruins of the Temple of Artemis and that is why the Katholikon (i.e. the main Church) is dedicated to St. Artemios. 

During the Ottoman period, where Greece was under Turkish rule for 400 years, the monastery was the See of the Metropolis of Patra. Unfortunately, the monastery was burnt by Turks and Albanians in 1770 and by the Turks during the Independence struggle against the Ottoman Empire (1821). In 1943, the monks where exiled from the monastery by the Germans, moving them to the monastery of Mpala. 

A feature which is easily evident to the visitor is that the monastery has many water fountains and springs which come straight from the mountain, attracting the locals, who come to fill their bottles with cold mountain water. 

Upon entering the premises of the monastery, the visitor comes across a small chapel, with an interesting story. There, in the main wall on the interior of the chapel we find an interesting icon – plaque of the Virgin Mary. On the 2nd of May 1969 two young kids, around 9 years old, where in the garden of the monastery, outside of the Katholikon. They both saw a bright light coming towards them. The light ended up on the floor, where the image of the Theotokos was imprinted. This image (icon) was later taken and placed within the chapel, showing that miracles still happen in our time.   

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