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Holy Monastery of Saint Stefanos

Holy monastery of St Stefanos, a woman monastic community (since 1961 a.d.), is being located to the southeast edge of the rocky cluster. The time of foundation lost in the mists of tradition but statements made by pilgrims during various seasons attests that they saw, at rock’s external entrance, an inscription with the name of Ieremias and a date of 6700 from world’s creation, ie 1191-1192 a.d. The inscription lost and probably have been referred to a hermit who was living in a cave somewhere on the rock. To be the Monastery’s founders have been mentioned 2 people, first in the 15th century a.d was Archmandrite Blessed Antonios who had a royal origin being the son of a Serbian hegemon and of a woman who was originated from Kadakouzino’s great family. Second founder is being mentioned Blessed Filotheos, who in mid of 16th century a.d rebuilt the old catholic, church of St Stephanos.

The monastery have used to enjoy the protection of Byzantium’s nobles, the Ecumenical Patriarchate and hegemonies that had been located around the Danube river. One of those hegemonies and specifically a Romanian house of nobles in 1798 a.d., year that the today’s catholic of st Charalampos was constructed by the Bishop of Stagon Paisios, donated to the monastery the skull of St Charalampos which is being kept there until today as a holy treasure. In 19th century during the period that father Constantinos was monastery’s abbot, great construction and spiritual activity has been observed. Later in 1961 a.d. monastery turned from men’s community to women. Nuns found the monastery almost ruined and under difficult conditions and after paying great physical and mental efforts, they have managed to organize the monastery’s community and create a bright future for it. As we mentioned before St Stefano’s old catholic, which monastery ows its name, it is a one space church which was painted in 1545 a.d. It i s a great post-Byzantine work where the depictions of the Wider than the Heavens and the Holy Eucharist stand out. In the main temple we can also spot major hagiographies and to the narthex we can see representations from the founders. While World War II monastery has suffered severe damages and that had as a result the destruction of the eyes and the faces of the Saint in all murals. Todays catholic, that has been dedicated to Saint Charalampos, follows the Athonite type being a four columns cruciform church and where visitors can admire the wooden temple, the throne of the Despot and the impressive shrines. Church’s roof was destructed by German bombs and in 1972 a.d. was totally restored. Walls of the monastery was not been covered by murals so Vlassios Tsotsonis, a great hagiographer who follows the standards and the tradition of Cretan School, has took over the project of painting.

Monastery has been famous about its great wealth of relics, since except of those that it has owned, during the ages it has stored and hosted relics from other monasteries. In the monastery is being hosted 154 manuscripts which date back to the 11th century a.d until the 19th century a.d. Worth of mentioning is the old monastery’s refectory which had been turned to musuem, the old kitchen, the guest house and the multi-purpose rooms. Do not miss to admire the post-byzantine icons, the gold-embroidered vestments and the goldsmiths works.

The access to this monastery is the easiest among the monasteries. It is being made via a descent road which leads to a narrow bridge that connects monastery’s rock to the road.