The Monastery of Virgin Mary
We were out exploring the hills around Steni the other day. We drove through a lot of farmland but didn't find anything that noteworthy. However, we did spy a brown road sign, so we decided to follow it. It led us to the Monastery of the Virgin Mary...
It is clear when you first arrive at the church that it has been recently renovated. It is no longer a monastery, but they do have a big celebration here every year.
Follow The Sign
On Easter Tuesday, every year, there is a big celebration here. All the faithful from the surrounding villages gather to attend mass.
But what of its history? Why is it called a monastery when it is a church? The answer to that can be found on Steni's own website:
The Monastery of Virgin Mary Chrysolakournas is found roughly 3 kilometers at the north side of the village Steni in a fantastic locality, having a view of the gulf of Polis Chrysohous and Cape Akama.
We do not know when the monastery was founded or when it was destroyed. From some information that we have from the historical Archimandrite Kyprianos, we conclude that the monastery was abandoned in the beginning of the 19th century. Today, the monasterial buildings, that were saved devastated for fifty years, are completely disappeared. Only a small part of the church was saved and this up to 1974.
In 1974-1975 the Department of Antiquities restored the church. The saved, up to 1974, departments of the church emanated from various periods and are the result of many interventions during the long life of the monastery. A mural of Saint Ioannis the Precursor that is rescued in the western wall of the temple and that can be dated in the 12th century, reduces the foundation of the monastery in the medium Byzantine period.
The website continues:
From the saved elements it appears that the initial church was reconditioned radically during the 14th century after some destruction. The 16th century the Church was either destroyed or suffered extensive damages and it was then built again and took its current form.
Apart from the mural of the Precursor in the western wall that is dated in the 12th century, there were discovered also some written crosses of 12th century in the western wall.
In the quadrant of the arch, there are saved pieces from the "Platytera" between the Archangels. At a lower level there are saved big departments from the communion of the Apostles (Communion) and departments showing ceremonies by priests, where the better saved is that of Agios Gregorios the Theologian. In the western arc of the northern wall a big part of the mural of Agios Georgios is saved. Most of the saved murals are dated in first half of the 16th century.
So, shall we go inside? The arrow shows you what handle you have to use. Don't turn it though, lift it.