We have recently visited the Monastery of the Holy Cross, which is located in the Mavratzei area, and we post a short introduction of its history along with many photos of this impressive structure.
The Monastery of the Holy Cross is located near the old capital city of the island, called Chora, and below the Mavratzei village. It dominates the area and is a spiritual attraction for many people.
According to tradition the monastery was founded in 1592 by monk Nilus, one of the founder monks of the Monastery of Great Virgin Mary, which is located in the area opposite of the Monastery of the Holy Cross.
According to tradition, monk Nilus was guided by a super natural light and by digging he discovered the icon of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. To honor this wondrous event he decided to build a small church. This first church soon showed signs of wear and static problems due to soil instability and the many underground streams of water. So, it had to be built again.
The Abbot of the monastery, named Gregory, a native of the Mavratzei village, along with the brotherhood of the monastery, took the decision, in January 1838, to proceed with this project having been granted the necessary license by the hegemonic administration of Samos and the approval of the regional Bishop.
For the completion of this ambitious goal the local government offered financial assistance, along with many Samians.
Indeed, the construction of the new church, on the foundations of the old one, began and ended in a very short period of time and the inauguration ceremony took place on the eve of a festival held on September 13, 1839 by the Bishop of Samos Theodosius.
The wooden pulpit was built in 1843 and gilded in 1873, while the Bishop’s throne was carved in 1844 and gilded in 1877.
In 1848 the inner walls of the church were covered by folk-style hagiographies made by the local painter John of Chora. However, today most of the hagiographies are destroyed and only few fragments are preserved on the west side wall and the sanctuary of the church. The two chandeliers were placed in 1848, the central bronze one was made in Moscow (Russia), while the smaller crystalline one it was donated by Patriarch Kirill.
The Monastery of the Holy Cross
Most of the icons of the iconostasis are painted by the Vezyropoulos brothers of Kidonies (present day Ayvalik in the northwest Asia Minor coast, Turkey). The icons were painted sometime between 1860 and 1870. The icons of the Christ and the Virgin Mary are both dated back in the 17thcentury, while the icon of the Holy Cross, which is cover by silver, is dated back to 1776.
Important moments as well as milestones for the spiritual life of Samos are the two festivals held annually by the monastery. The monastery itself is celebrated on September, 14 during the great Bishop’s feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross.
The festival is a pilgrimage for all Samians and brings together people from all parts of Samos, while before the Asia Minor Catastrophe of 1922 many were pilgrims from the opposite coast (Asia Minor), who use to come and worship the “Great Cross” as it is still called the monastery.
The second festival is held on the Third Sunday of Lent, during which the greetings of the Holy Cross are chanted