Monastery of Agioi Pateres

The monastery of Agioi Pateres is situated on Mt Provateion, at an altitude of 670 metres above sea level, built slightly higher than the Nea Moni monastery. It’s twelve kilometres west of the island’s capital. This male monastery is intrinsically tied, both spiritually and historically, with the neighbouring Nea Moni. The Holy Fathers to whom the monastery is dedicated, Niketas, Ioannis and Joseph, were the founders of the Nea Moni. Tradition has it that the icon of the Virgin Mary was revealed to them miraculously. The Monastery of Agioi Pateres is built inside the cave where the three monks who founded the Nea Moni made their quarters.

The monk Ieremias fled Venetian Crete in the wake of the Ottoman conquest of 1669, settling in Chios. There, he chose to make his quarters in the historic cave on Mt Provateion. Gradually, the Cretan monk converted the cave into a church. During this period, a pandemic of plague was sweeping through the holdings of the Most Serene Republic of Venice and throughout the wider Mediterranean. Chios was not spared from the pandemic. Ieremias contracted the plague and came close to losing his life but, according to tradition, he called upon the Holy Fathers, fell asleep and was visited in his dreams by three venerable, godly ascetics who blessed him and healed him of the disease. Upon waking up, he found himself completely cured. Out of gratitude to the three holy figures, he painted them as he had seen them in his sleep.
The current form of the monastic complex dates to the final quarter of the 19th century and is associated with the monk Pachomios, a native of Elata on Chios. In 1868, Pachomios replaced Ieremias’ small quarters with a large monastic complex complete with a katholikon, cells and auxiliary spaces. He dedicated this new complex to the Holy Fathers, Niketas, Ioannis and Joseph. Thirty years later, in 1898, Pachomios founded the holy Monastery of Sts Constantine and Helen, a nunnery, on the Frangovouni hill in the area of Kampos, Chios.
But let’s return to the Monastery of Agioi Pateres, which Pachomios furnished with an organised religious painting workshop from its founding. The local monks became renowned for their icon-painting skill.
1912 saw the first major disaster strike the monastic complex. In November 1912, the Ottoman garrison of Chios under Zihne Bey, pursued by the Greek forces which had landed to liberate the island, encamped around the monastery. The “Makedonia”, a ship belonging to the Greek naval squadron, bombarded the Turkish forces encamped around the monastery on 17 December. Some of the shells landed on the buildings and environs of the monastic complex, exploding and causing extensive damage.
Today however, the monastery is truly a striking sight for visitors. The buildings have been organised lengthwise, in accordance with the limited available building surfaces of this rocky region. Visitors are sure to be struck by the imposing, otherworldly atmosphere inside the initial cave church. This cave has been transformed into a holy place, with the marble iconostasis, benches, chandelier and candle holders under the rock ceiling constituting a unique and solemn scene.

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