Monastery of Moundon (general overview)

The Monastery of St John the Forerunner, widely known as the Monastery of Moundon, is situated on Mt Pelinaion at an altitude of 300 metres. Tradition has it that the monastery was originally built at Moundas, near the town of Volissos. But the original monks were dissatisfied with their proximity to society and decided to move their monastery to today’s isolated location.
Sadly, we have no information on when the monastery was founded. The only source that mentions this place are the Sigils of Patriarch Jeremias II, which date to 1574 and record that the monastery was renovated by the Hieromonk Iakovos Langadiotis. However, according to the account of a Russian Athonite monk, Moundon possessed an extensive archive including the last will and testament, dated 1462, of St Matrona Chiopolitis, a possible indication of the monastery’s age. It became a home for prominent Chiotes who had decided to forsake the world and devote themselves to God. Some of these individuals, such as Ioannis Argentis (who took the monastic name Iakovos and eventually became hegumen) created the painted decoration of the monastery. Sadly, the older painting phases were destroyed in the 1881 earthquake. The surviving frescoes were created by an anonymous painter and may be dated to 1849 thanks to an inscription on the lintel above the main entrance. The iconographic program is lush and extensive, including scenes from the Dodecaorton, episodes from the Public Life of Christ and the Passion, Old Testament scenes, aspects of monastic life and depictions of saints. Visitors will find the fresco in the lower register of the southern wall that’s accompanied by an inscription which translates to “the life of a true monk” especially fascinating. Here, a crucified monk is flanked by Hades on the left and the world and Death on two distinct levels on the right. The whole composition has overt folk leanings.

The monastery sits in a striking natural environment, ideally suited for calm contemplation, study and prayer. Looking from east to west from the monastery, visitors can spot the medieval castle-town of Volissos, the medieval settlement of “Ta Markou” and the later settlements of Diefcha, Pirama, Fita, Kipouries and Pityos. Moundon is thirty-one kilometres of scenic road from the island’s capital.

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