Great Cave, the oldest Monastery of Greece – The history and treasures of

It was built in 362 AD by the Thessalonians brothers monks, Simeon and Theodore and is considered the oldest Monastery of Greece, magnetizing the gaze of the thousands of pilgrims, as it dominates the rock. The reason for the , the historical monastery of Kalavryta which is a spiritual oasis for believers and one of the most important pilgrimages of Orthodoxy. The Monastery is located 10 km north-east of Kalavryta near the road that connects the National Road of Patras – Athens with Kalavryta, and is built in the opening of a large natural cave (from where its name is) of the Helmos mountain range, above the steep gorge of the Vuraikos river, at an altitude of approximately 900 meters, as well as within walking distance and higher than the village of Kato Zachloros. The eight-story complex of the Monastery takes the breath away in combination with the impressive landscape of the area. The Catholic of the Monastery dug in the rock, is a cross-shaped temple, registered with two splints. The main temple has 1653 murals, remarkable marbles on the floor, wood-sculpted iconostasis, while in the narthex the murals go back to the early 19th century. The Story of the Monastery The history of the Monastery of the Great Cave begins in the wonderful way of finding the Holy Picture. Two brothers from Thessaloniki, Simeon and Theodore, distinguished for their education and piety, after practicing in the mountains of Olympus, Ossa and Pelion, went to Mount Athos to meet enlightened quieters and desert men. From there they went to the Holy Land to worship all the places our Savior walked. While the two brothers were in Jerusalem, each saw a separate vision with the command to go to Achaia and find the Holy Picture of Our Lady from mastic and wax, crafted by Evangelist Luke. After several wanderings and revealing dreams, they met here in 362 A.D. the daughter Euphoria, a shepherd from the village of Galata (Zaclou). When they approached her, Euphoria worshiped them with respect and mentioned their names. He then led them to the cave where the requested Holy Picture was located, which he had discovered earlier by the “Uncle House”, and by the instruction of a goat from her flock, who went to the cave to drink water from the source that was there. This source of the cave – marble after – is today known under the name “The Source of the Daughter”, holy water, while Euphria is honored as Holy. The Holy Image, according to tradition, was next to the source and guarded by a terrible dragon, who was killed by lightning when he attacked the two monks who were trying to clear the sacred space from dense vegetation. Subsequently, the two monks built a small temple and some small cells with the assistance of the crowd of believers who flocked to worship the miraculous image of the Virgin. Several of the faithful even remained for exercise. Slowly – slowly the Monastery became one of the most “polymonas Monas” and experienced great prosperity and glamour. The original temple was saved until 1934, when it was destroyed by fire. The property of the Monastery included properties in Constantinople, Smyrna, Thessaloniki, and large areas in Achaia and Ilia, the so-called “Metochia”. The Monastery was destroyed at least four times by fires, in 840, 1400, 1640 and 1934. But the Holy Picture was always miraculously saved. Emperor Andronikos the Elder allegedly rebuilt the monastery in 1285 after a devastating fire. The Great Cave played an important role in the revolts against the Turks. In 1770 the Metropolitan of Patras Partheni chief armed besieged Kalavryta. Then the abbot of the Monastery of the Great Cave with other monks and with the cross on hand went to Kalavryta where interceding managed to stop the siege and safely leave Turkish families. Thanks to this act of the abbot, when the revolution and hordes of Albanians were then suppressed, the Monastery managed to save many lives of Greeks. He received many attacks, but was never conquered During the Revolution of 1821 the Monastery was a beacon of Orthodoxy and Hellenism and also a centre of resistance against the conquerors and although it was attacked many times, it was never conquered. The event that stood out was the rebuttal of the Ibrahim expedition in June 1827. On 21 June the Ottomans Sami Efedis and Shehnejip Efedis, under Ibrahim’s command, called on the monks to hand over the Monastery to him by writing among others: “Abbot will think of this movement of Romans not to be blessed in the head, so as wise where you are deeply think that you do not find a good ending and you will be defeated.” On June 22, the historical answer of the then abbot Damascus was given to the Turks: “… to worship is impossible because we are sworn in our faith, or to be freed or to die fighting, and according to our praise we cannot break the sacred oath of our Father. … if you come here to fight us and defeat us, it is not a great evil, because you will defeat priests, but if you are defeated… it will be your shame and then the Greeks will be encouraged and will hunt you down everywhere. … And indeed the army of Ibrahim, who had the support of Greeks worshiped under Neneco, was forced to withdraw after a tough battle on 24 June, thanks to the brave defense from the Petmesians and Fotakos. The monastery where many civilians had found refuge, the Turks failed to understand it and after the conflict had many dead and wounded in contrast to the Greek camp. After the outcome of the battle that was victorious for the Greeks, the conquerors left the wider area of Kalavryta. In 1895 George Paraskevopoulos, who was a saint (Saint Gervasios of Patras) studied at the School Registry in the Monastery on 16 November 2023, following a decision of the Holy and Holy Synod of the Patriarchate. In modern times, the Monastery was again destroyed by fire and rebuilt in 1937, having been placed under the auspices of King George II who also founded its new wing. In December 1943 Nazi occupation troops looted the monastery and executed 16 people, visitors, vassals and monks. Another nine monks were executed in the position “High Cross”. The remaining cells from the 1934 fire were set on fire. After the war new buildings were erected. Despite all these trials, the Monastery of the Great Cave, after every disaster or fire was better. In 1979 the late Panosiotatos Archimandrite Nickephoros Theodoropoulos took charge of Igoumenitsa of the Monastery (rested 24/11/2012). Then the Monastery from “private” became “Socialist”, so that undistracted monks served the Virgin Mary, in whose service they promised themselves. The spiritual treasures of the Monastery The image of Our Lady Megalospiolaiossis: A prominent position among the sacred relics of the Monastery is held by the Wonderworker Holy Image of the “Panagia of Megalospilaiotissa”, which is the work of Evangelist Luke (one of three he created and they are preserved to date). It is estimated that along with the Gospel and Acts of the Apostles she was given to his spiritual child, the ruler of Achaia Theophilus. And he bequeathed her to his descendants. During the persecutions, they hid it in the Cave. When they died or were killed for their Faith, he remained in the Cave until he was miraculously discovered by St. It is embossed, three point thick and made of wax, mastic and other materials. It bears colored and gold charts. Of the many fires it has been marred. Her body is turned right, with the head tilted towards her Son, holding him in the right hand (Righty), who with his left hand gently holds the left palm of His Mother, while with the right hand holding the Gospel. To the right and left of the candle-dressing image, angels are present, with fear. At the four corners of the picture are located right wing Seraphim and left chamois Cheruvim. At the same time, there are many sacred relics in the Monastery’s Chamber: sigilia, manuscripts with excellent miniatures, various blessings crosses, bronze paintings, portraits etc. It was deeply renovated by the brothers Adravidiotis. In addition, in the chapel of the Buildings Symeon Theodoros and Euphrenia, there are many relics with Holy Remains of many Saints, the honorable Kares of the founders of the Monastery as well as part of the sacred Leipzig of St. Charalambous (indestructible left hand in a blessing attitude) Access to the Monastery today is easy: on the National Road of Athens – Patras, after Akrata at the exit of Punta we follow the road to Kalavryta. After 25 km we reach the Holy Monastery. Also from Dikopto with the impressive train, the toothy, crossing the infinite beauty gorge of Vuraikos, the visitor arrives in Kalavryta and from there by taxi in ten minutes is located in the Holy Monastery. Finally, the Holy Monastery celebrates and celebrates on the following dates: On the 15th of August (Singing of the Supreme Virgin). On 14 September (Elevation of the Holy Cross) as well as on 18 October (Fest of St.