The island has 5 monasteries with a reputation that crosses the borders of Greece. Specifically:
- Panahrantou: It is home of the icon of Maria mother of Jesus that assumed to be created by evangelist Loukas. The monastery is also called St Panteleimonas because the saint’s remains are kept here. When and how the monastery was founded is not exactly known. It is believed around 960 AD two monks found the icon in a cave at the mountain and eventually an establishment was set at the area. The monastery has a beautiful view of Chora and all the sourrounding villages. It celebrates on July 27 and August 15 every year.
- Saint’s: it is the largest monastery of the island (photo). From far away it appears like a fortress. It is located 7 km from the harbor towards Batsi. It has an extensive collection of icons and a library with rare books and manuscripts. According to the legend, a blind man was passing by an area workers were trying to build a new monastery. Their task was impossible because every night their tools would disappear. The blind man felt thirsty but he knew there was no water in this area. Suddenly a goat appeared with wet mouth an indication it had drunk water nearby. Looking for the water the man visioned a woman who showed him the spring and told him to wash his eyes with its water. The miracle happened and the blind man regained his vision. The woman asked the man to find the workers and tell them they should build the monastery at the location is today. It celebrates the first Friday after Orthodox Easter. This place has a special spot for our family because it is where Fl. Hala-Mila first met with L. Milas.
- St Nicolas: It was established the 11th century in the area “Hours” north of Chora. It is a large monastery with high walls, 20 churches inside the walls, whereas it owns 20 more around the island. One can visit the remains of several saints of the Orthodox church that are kept in this monastery. It is also famous for its high altar that spouts holy water. It celebrates on December 6, May 9, and July 2 and 20.
- St Marina: it is devoted to st Marina, one of the most beloved saints of Orthodox Greeks. According to the legend, the saint appeared to a monk some time around 1325 AD and led him to a rock where her icon was hidden. During the 16th century the monastery was burnt to the ground 3 times by pirates. The monastery continued to deteriorate until the saint appeared again in 1740’s, and motived a charismatic monk to move to the establishment. This monk was instrumental in rebuilding and transforming the monastery to a wealthy establishment. In 1883 the monastery was forced to close. The icon was sold in an auction and bought by the prestigious family Empirikos who took it to Chora and set it in the church of Panagia. The monastery remained close for 146 years and its reconstruction started in the 70’s. It celebrates on July 17.
- St Irene: it is close to the village Apoikia, north of Chora. The monastery was forced to close the same period with St Marina. Eventually it was ruined. In 2006 the family Polemis bought the land with the monastery ruins. They reconstructed the church with respect to the original style. It celebrates on May 5 and July 28.
Photo: N. Vasilopoulos