Monastery of Agios Raphael, Nikolas and Irene in Paralia Thermi

The monastery

It’s a new monastery. It’s built 40 years ago, but plays a big role and is one of the most important pilgrim places of Greece.

On the hill of Karies remnants of a nunnery of the 13th century were found, on which is now also the present monastery. It was dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Its head-nun Olympia was murdered by pirates around 1235 AC who also destroyed the monastery.

In the middle of the 15th century a monk called Roubem lived in solitary on that spot and it was a hiding place for St. Raphael. In 1463 Thermi was the big place of resistance against the Turks. The local people fled to the monastery.

On “Good Friday” the Turks attacked the monastery and St. Raphael, Nikolas, Vasilius (one of the leaders of the local community in Thermi), his 12 years old daughter Irene and the village teacher were captured. The local people fled into the mountains. On the Tuesday after Easter St. Raphael and the others were tortured till death and the Turks put the monastery on fire. The local people came back and buried Raphael between the ruins of the church and the others on the cemetery. For centuries the Holy Mess was held on the Tuesday after Easter on that spot, but slowly in time, it was forgotten what happened in the past. In 1959 the people of Thermi got visions in which the saints appeared. The saints told them their story of their death and the precise locations of their graves. The people decided to build a new monastery on that place again and in 1969 it was finished.

Saint Raphael

St. Raphael, born as Georgios Laskaridis, lived in the 15th century. He came from Ithaca. After his study he became an officer in the army. After he got the full privilege of a monk, he took the name Raphael and became a priest. He served the church of Agios Dimitrios Loumbardiaris, situated on the Piloppappou hill in Athens. After that he became the head of a monastery in Constantinople.

He was an extraordinary and well developed saint. Because of this he had been sent by the Patriarch as his representative on a mission to France. There he met the student Nikolas, the son of a rich family from Thessaloniki, who followed him to Constantinople where he became a diaken. After the fall of Constantinople in 1453 Raphael and Nikolas fled to Thermi, where they lived as monks. 


Taxiarchis Monastery in Mandamados

There is not much historical evidence of this monastery. Some experts think that it was built in the Byzantine times and destroyed by the Turks. Other experts think that it was built in the 16th century.

Nowadays the church is a pilgrim place for thousands of Christians from all over the world because of its icon in relief of the Archangel Michael.

According to the tradition Saracen pirates attacked the monastery and killed all 40 monks, except one, who were living there. The only survivor, a young novice, could escape and hide. He mixed the blood of the monks with earth to make clay and used it to make the icon of the Archangel. This icon is one of a few icons in relief in the Orthodox Church.

The reason that the inhabitants of Lesvos offer metal shoes is the following tradition: They believe that the Archangel speeds every night over the island and therefore wearing out his shoes, but the biggest belief is that his shoes are worn out because "He goes to wars to fight for saviour, independence, freedom and human pain". These shoes are regularly found in the morning before the church.

Every 3rd Sunday after Easter a festival is held. During this festival a bull gets slaughtered and the traditional kiskeki (meat with wheat) gets prepared by all night long worship. From all over the island people walk to Mandamados or ride their horses in respect to the Archangel and to ask for health and success.

Leimonos/Myrsiniotissa Monastery near Kalloni

Leimonos monastery

This monastery is one of the most important monasteries of Greece, not only because of its history or as monument, but mainly of the valuable objects. These precious things have a very big religious value, out of a period of almost 1000 years.

In 1526 Saint Ignatios Agallianos, the archbishop of Mithymna, has founded and built it on the ruins of an older Byzantine monastery. This was devoted to the Archangel Michael and was destroyed when Lesvos was attacked by the Turks. It has its name because of the rich vegetation of the valley in which it’s built. Leimonos means “meadow”. During 500 years two saints were the patron saints of the monastery. The two saints were: the founder of the monastery, Ignatios, and Saint Euthymios Agritellis, the bishop of Zela in Pontos, which is killed in 1921.

Myrsiniotissa Monastery

It’s a Byzantine nun monastery devoted to the place of stay of Maria, the mother of Christ. It was probably destroyed in the time that Lesvos was occupied by the Turks. In 1523 it was rebuilt by Saint Ignatios Agallianos, the founder of the Leimonos Monastery with which it is connected.

The monastery played an important role in the education of girls during the Turkish occupation. The nuns learned the girls besides reading, writing and music, also to weave and embroider. This resulted in marvelous creations which can be seen in the Leimonos Monastery. The grave of Saint Ignatios is in the sanctuarium.

Saint Ignatios

Saint Ignatios was born in 1480 in the village Farangas (from which only ruins are left), close to Kalloni. As a child he was already attracted to live in a monastery, but he followed the wishes of his father and married a devoted woman, called Maria. Quickly after his marriage he became a priest. When his wife and children, except Methodios, died because of the pest, he decided to live in a monastery.

He rebuilt the old church of the Virgin, the old katholikon of the Byzantine monastery Myrsiniotissa, that was in the possession of his family. He founded a small monastery in which he lived together with his father Manuel and his son Methodios as monks. Soon other members of the Christian belief joined with them and the men and women came to live with them. This was the reason why he decided to found a monastery for women in Myrsiniotissis and one for men on another location, on the ruins of a Byzantine monastery. Also this piece of land was in the possession of his family. And so the Leimonos Monastery was founded.

In 1530 he became bishop of Mithymna. After a successful period in this function he resigned and lived in Agioi Anargyroi Monastery as a hermit.

After his death on the 14th of October 1566, he was buried in Myrsiniotissa In 1575 Sylvester, the patriarch of Alexandria visited the convent. When he wanted to kiss the tomb, he was aware of an indescribable smell. He decided to open the tomb. After the seal was broken, the church was filled with the fragrant aroma of holy remains, on which was declared that Ignatios was a saint. 

Ypsilou Monastery near Sigri/Eressos

This Byzantine monastery is devoted to Saint John and is built in the style of a fortress. Since the 17th century it is known as Moni Ypsilou, because it’s built on a high mountain (Mount Ordymnos). Ypsilo means high in Greek. According to the tradition it’s founded in the 7th century by a monk out of Syria, who was forced to leave his country after Syria was occupied by Persians and Arabs.

There is not much historical evidence of the monastery. When Lesvos was occupied by the Ottomans in 1462, the monastery was robbed and the monks were killed, as the same as the other monasteries on the island. It has been rebuilt in the 16th century. There is a library and museum in the monastery.

Celebrations are held on the 8th of May and the 26th of September.

Other monasteries

Monastery of Agioi Akindinoi near Petalidi

Abandoned monastery.

Monastery of Pithariou or Taxiarchis near Eressos

Male monastery.

Monastery of Perivoli near Antissa

Built in the 16th century.

Monastery Moni ton Boukolon or Manastreli near Anemotia

No information.

Monastery of Damandriou near Polichnitos

Built in the 12th century.

Monastery of Taxiarchis near Kato Tritos

Byzantine monastery.

Click on pictures to enlarge

Old churches

Mitilini:

  • Church of Agios Therapontas. 
  • Church of Saint Athanasios (18th century) 
  • Church of Saint Theodoras (1795).

Agia Marina: Church of Agia Marina (1797)

Moria: Church of Saint Vasilios (1769).

Pamfila: Church of Agia Varvara (1878). The marble iconostasis was engraved by Iannis Chalepas. 

Pyrgoi Thermi: Byzantine temple of Panagia Trouloti. It was a temple for the Virgin Mary and probably built in the 14th century. It has a circumscribed cross-shaped dome.

Mandamados: Church of Agios Vasilios.

Agios Stefanos: Old church

Tsonia: Chapel of Agia Anastasia, remnants of an early christian basilica.

Molivos:

  • The basilica of Taxiarchis (1795)
  • Church of Agios Panteleimonas (1844)
  • Church of Agia Kiriaki.

Skala Sikamineas: Church "Panagia i Gorgona" (Madonna the mermaid)

Petra:

  • Petra is known for the church of Virgin Mary (Panagia i Glikofilousa) on the rock in the middle of the village. You can reach the church by taking 114 steps. There is a saying that if you make a wish at the bottom of the stairs and you go up in silence, that your wish comes true! 
  • Church of Agios Nikolaos with 3 layers of wall paintings of which the oldest one probably dates back to the 16th century.

Ypsilometopo: Church of Taxiarchis (1807).

Stipsi: Church of Koimisi tis Theotokou (1805).

Lafionas:

  • Church of the Dormition of the Virgin (a three-aisled basilica of 1807). 
  • Chapel of Agia Paraskevi with its well-planted precinct.

Skoutaros: Church of Koimisi tis Theotokou (1880).

Megali Tsichrada: Chapel of Agios Panteleimon.

Agia Paraskevi:

  • Church of Taxiarchis (1856): this is the 2nd biggest church of the island.
  • Chapel of Agia Paraskevi built in the cave of the nearby hill.

Napi: Chapel of Taxiarchis or known as Trouloti.

Sigri: Church of Agia Triada

Vatousa: Church of Virgin Mary (Koimisi tis Theotokou) (1850).

Tzithra: Church of Agios Nikolaos.

Kalloni: Church of Agios Ioannis (of the Archbisshop). The church is dedicated to Agios John Prodromos.

Parakila: Church of Taxiarchis (1758).

Anemotia: Church of Agios Georgios (1702).

Papiana: Church with wall paintings (1600).

Skalachori: Church of Agios Georgios (1851)

Agiasos: Church of Virgin Mary (Panagia)

Polichnitos: Cathedral of Agios Georgios (1892)

Vrisa: Church of Zoodochos Pygi (19th century).

Panagia I Krifti (the hidden virgin) is a beach on the westside of Plomari. There is a small chapel dedicated to Virgin Mary and is built in a cave of a rock.

Mesagros: Church of Zo-odochos Pigi.

Skopelos: Enter the small cave lying under the church of Agia Magdalini.

Paleokipos: Church of Agios Ermolaos (1795).

Asomatos: Church of Taxiarchis (1796)

Ippios: Church of Agios Prokopios (1741)

Sykounda: Church (1870)