Tuesday, August 16, 2016

St Gerasimos Old Church, Kefalonia

The Holy Monastery of St Gerasimos at Omala is undoubtedly the religious centre of the Ionian Island of Kefalonia. St Gerasimos, born in 1503 AD in Trikala (Korinthias), is the protector Saint of Kefalonia. St Gerasimos was ordained a monk at Mount Athos. He later went to Jerusalem where he lived for 12 years, passed to Crete and Zakynthos and finally arrived in Kefalonia, where he died on August 15th 1579. He was declared a Saint of the Orthodox Church in 1622.  St Gerasimos is known for his miraculous abilities to cure people with mental illnesses. That is why many, till this day, visit the Saint to receive his blessing and try to cure their loved ones.

The Saint founded a nunnery in the valley at Omala, interestingly calling it the New Jerusalem. The monastery is located near the imposing Mount Ainos, near the villages of Fragata and Valsamata.

This monastic community has two churches, the old one, where the Saint lies, and the new church building. The latter is much larger; however, the old one retains the traditional architectural and iconographic tradition of the Ionian Islands. A number of miracles have been attributed to this local Saint, who attracts thousands of faithful to this monastery and to Kefalonia in general, on an annual basis.

Interestingly enough, and many visitors do not actually see this due to it being hidden within the floor of the church, there is the Saint’s hermitage – two rooms divided by a narrow hole. It is located 3 metres beneath the church’s floor.

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