St. John the Baptist monastery, Vomvokos

The Monastery of St. John is 15 km NE of Nafpaktos and 33km from Patras, near the mountain village of Vomvokou on the eastern slope of Mount Riganion. To the West it is surrounded by lush vegetation, including planes, and streams, whereas to the South by Mornos plain, the sea and the mountains of the Peloponnese.

Τhe icon of St John the Baptist was miraculously found by shepherds on the opposite slope amidst a dazzling bright light at night. It was discovered inside a cave at a location named ‘Stefania’ (ie ‘Wreaths’) in close proximity to the current Monastery.

Local provincial governor reports (1836) that the Monastery operated as Stavropegic (directly subordinated to the Patriarchate) almost until the Greek Revolution.

The Katholikon was built in 1695 on the site of an older church which had either undergone irreparable damage or was no longer meeting the needs of the brotherhood. The Katholikon is arranged on a four-pillar domed cruciform plan. Its main characteristic is two arches to the North and South influenced by the Byzantine tradition and used as chorus in the manner of Athonite churches.

The iconography of the Katholikon generally follows the austere style of Constantinople with ascetic tendencies, sometimes even illuminated by a distant reflection of the Palaeologian art. The iconography of the church may have been completed between 1703 and 1722 by trainee artists Panos and Christos whose surnames and origins are unknown, but whose first names are mentioned in the Holy Prothesis.

The Monastery flourished during the last quarter of the 17th century when the completion of the Katholikon also took place. It was officially declared a legal entity, proportional to the Muslim mosques, by Sultan Mahmud I in 1733, who granted it certain assets.

During the Ottoman-Venetian war (1687-1699) as well as the revolutions of 1770 and 1821, the Monastery provided aid to the province and shelter to the deprived, both locals and foreigners, and support to the military force involved in the blockade of the fortress of Nafpaktos.

It became a women’s monastery in 1940 under the guidance of Abbess Mariam who officially came to the Monastery in 1943 receiving her monastic name Marianthi during her tonsure. Abbess Mariam was succeeded by meek, humble and quiet Abbess Parthenia. With the amazing grace of St. John the Baptist a sisterhood, led by Abbess Eirini, has there resided since 2004.

Our Patronal Feast (the Beheading of St John the Forerunner) is celebrated on August 29. Other feast days include:  June 24 (the Nativity of St John the Baptist), January 7 (the Synaxis of St John the Baptist when he is honored for the Baptism of our Lord)and September 14 (the Exaltation of the Holy Cross).

As the Katholikon is honored at the Beheading of St. John the Baptist, the feast of August 29 occupies a special place in the worshipping life of the Monastery and in the conscience of the faithful, hundreds of whom gather on this day of the year.




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