Pilgrimage to Mikrokastro Mother of God Monastery

This post has been long due, since Mikrokastro Mother of God Monastery has been my refuge and retreat since 2014, ever since I discovered it, or better ever since our Holy Lady revealed herself to me there.  A most  holy place, a ‘thin’ place I keep returning, especially when badly in need of spiritual nourishment, in times of trials, adversity, tribulations and temptations. This is a place where the Mother of God comforts all her children, a place where its peace invades you and the fellowship of the nuns warms you.

 

 

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Part A: A brief history of the Monastery of the Mikrokastro Mother Of God

 

The Holy Monastery is dedicated to the Assumption of the Mother of God. According to historians, the main church of the monastery is estimated to have been founded 200-250 years ago. The iconography in the church was completed in 1797 (about 200 years ago), as is shown by the inscription that still exists on the west wall of the church.

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The history of this place started with a small chapel in the nearby village of Mikrokastro, but its propitious geographical position as a passing place on the journey from Kozani to Kastoria helped the site become a place of worship. This was mainly due to the presence of the Holy Icon of the Eleoussa Mother of God on the icon screen; it is not known when or under what historical and religious circumstances this Icons was found here.

 

 

The miracle-working power of the Icon contributed to the place quickly becoming the most important place of worship in Western Macedonia. According to the inscription mentioned above, the church’s frescoes were painted by iconographers from Kopessovo in Epirus, who, despite Western influence, tried to remain loyal to the Byzantine tradition following the standards of the Konstantinos Palaiologos era. The more popular manner of the depictions does not diminish the sweetness of the facial expression or the comforting feeling instilled in the souls of the faithful.

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The icon screen of the convent is one of the most beautiful in the region and was made by skilled craftsmen either from the local area or Epirus. The miracle-working Icon of the Mother of God found in and belonging to the monastery dates back to either the 12th or the 13th century according to modern methods of dating holy icons.

 

 

 

The plenty votive offerings to the Mother of God helped the property of the Monastery to increase, and this property was taken care of by workmen inhabiting the area. In 1820 this place of worship was characterized as a Holy Monastery for reasons of prestige because of the presence of the Holy Icon, since it never had a monastic brotherhood. It only had an Abbot appointed by the Bishop of Siatista and an administration Committee.

 

 

This Holy place played an important religious and national role supporting the nation’s struggle for independence in 1821, offering hospitality and a hiding place to revolutionaries of the independence struggle, maintaining an ammunition store, paying the salary of the village teacher, and strengthening the inhabitants’ faith so that they could resist the pressure of Islamic proselytism.

 

The monastery participated in the historic events of 1878, offering moral and material support, in the Macedonian struggle during the years 1904-1908, in the war of liberation in 1912, in the relief of the victims of the Asia Minor disaster, in the epic struggle of 1940-1941 and its climax, i.e. the historic Fardikampos battle in March 1943. The monastery “offered soul, blood and money” offering the sacrifice even of its priest.

 

 

After the war, the bishop of Sisani and Siatista, Iakovos Kleomvrotos, (later to become Bishop of Mytilini), a powerful personality of the clergy, realised that the Holy Monastery was a more suitable place for spiritual and social activity than mountainous Siatista.

 

In 1952 he founded a School of Agriculture here for the farmers’ sons of the area, which, after functioning for two years, closed and was given to the Swiss Red Cross with a view to founding a hospital for local children suffering from glandular problems. In this building a primary school was also set up. In this way, hundreds of local children were helped.

 

Other buildings at the same location include the boarding school of the School of Housekeeping, which was used as a guest house and later as a home for the elderly. In addition, another building was erected in which his successor – Bishop Polykarpos – founded an orphanage.

 

Bishop Antonios was elected in 1974, and he showed great interest in the restoration and peopling of the monasteries in the region. In 1981 the position of the Abbot fell vacant and Father Stephanos Renos took over. With the moral, spiritual and material support of the Bishop as well as the contribution of the faithful and well-known donors, Father Stephanos Renos did great renovation work and added new buildings, a guest house and chapels.

 

 

 

 

In 1993, by a presidential decree, the Holy Monastery was turned into a monastery for women, and some time later the first monastics entered the monastery.

 

 

Two noticeable customs have been preserved since the years of Turkish domination. The first is the custom of Horseriding. On the 15th August, a religious festival day, the young men from Siatista armed and riding ornate horses came to the festival to venerate the Mother of God and under the unsuspicious eyes of the Turks the leaders of the struggle talked about the issues concerning the revolution, and the hope of freedom for the enslaved Greeks was strengthened. This custom has been preserved until today and has been incorporated in the whole festive religious atmosphere.

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The second custom is the carrying in procession of the icon of the Mother of God That is, apart from extraordinary events such as insect epidemics, droughts and illnesses, during which the inhabitants of the area carried the icon in procession around the area to ward off evil, the inhabitants of Siatista have been taking the same icon in procession regularly for centuries now. In all weathers and accompanied by many people of all ages, they cover a three-hour distance on foot holding the icon in their hands until they arrive in their town, where the icon is solemnly received and taken to the cathedral and a prayer is chanted. After this, the Icon is taken to every house and flat. This event witnesses the fact that neither the Mother of God’s grace nor the people’s faith have diminished.

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The grace of the Mother of God has gathered peace-loving and pious women who have offered themselves to life-long service in the monastery, vowing to find salvation through the basic virtues of monastic life: obedience, chastity, lack of property, prayer, charity, and at the same time trying to achieve the moral elevation of local inhabitants.

The small sisterhood has devoted itself to a struggle for inner order, the restoration of buildings, the organization of worship, tree-planting on the land belonging to the convent, hospitality and spiritual outreach to visitors. The sisterhood sows with patience, cultivates the seeds of the virtues referred to in the Gospel with assiduity, re-baptizes the faithful in the genuine spiritual concepts of the Orthodox Church and the Holy Fathers, interprets the Gospel, comforts the sad and turns the beautiful stone-built monastery into a safe harbour, where people struggling in life can find shelter and relief.

 

 

Contact Information:

Mikrokastro, Siatista, Greece

Tel no: +30 24650 71307

To be continued …

Part B: Lessons from the Monastery and Miracles at Mikrokastro Mother Of God to follow soon

 

 

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Christ Won the Battle!

Fr. John Musther Of Cumbria interview last year at Orthochristian.com 

AN INTERVIEW WITH FR. JOHN MUSTHER OF CUMBRIA

“Christ Won the Battle and Made my Heart Orthodox!”

made such an impression on me that I wanted to meet him in person! The Good Lord ‘arranged’ for me to visit him together with some friends all the way from Greece to the UK at  his church-home! What a wonderful person and what a most heart-warming smile!  Enjoy our tour to his chapel and home-church!

 

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Do you perceive the movement of the Holy Spirit within the ever growing circle of grace? Divine connections, Divine providence, Divine Love!
Isn’t this circle of grace, which so often seems to be accidental or co incidental, actually providence and a sign of the Holy Spirit working amongst us? Glory to God πάντων ένεκεν! For everything!

Columba Sails East

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You say you are Orthodox? And what did you say your baptismal name was? I am a Northern Irish convert to Orthodoxy who regularly finds himself working and going to church in places which are much closer to the traditional heartland of eastern Christianity. So I am often asked, by gingerly Greeks or sceptical Serbs, about my path to Orthodoxy and in particular my patronal saint. When I give the answer, the scepticism sometimes deepens. And so – if the conversation is worth pursuing at all – I find myself attempting to explain the Christian heritage of the place where I grew up, and my own relationship to that place. Sometimes people are interested; sometimes I can watch their eyes glaze over. But since my story is the story of many western Orthodox Christians, I shall try telling it in print.

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St Columba’s Bay, Iona

When I had the joy of being received into the Orthodox Church just over seven years ago, I took the name of Columba, the saint of Ireland andenlightener of Scotland. The process whereby priest and catechumen settle on a name is always a mysterious one; but in my case the decision to accept the name and seek the protecting guidance of Columba seemed to accord well with my own cultural origins; and also with the calling I had felt, however dimly, to another Kingdom, in which all national and cultural differences are set aside.  …

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Columba and the other great saints of the early Christian West are part of the common heritage of the undivided Church, and so they have a well-deserved place among the treasures of Orthodoxy. But for good reason, people from the old Orthodox world are reluctant to be taught new tricks by upstart converts from strange countries; so more than once I found myself put down rather sharply. The other difficulty I encountered was with western Christians: “We know the Roman Catholics have an interest in the early Celtic Church,” they would say, “and so do the Scottish Presbyterians and the Anglicans – but what possible connection can there be between Gaelic saints like Columba and the eastern Orthodox?”

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… But is Orthodoxy simply one among many competitors for a slice of the Columba heritage? Reading the ecclesiastical history of the British Isles in the 19th century, you can trace the almost comical way in which one Christian denomination after another tried to lay claim to the saintly enlightener of Scotland. Roman Catholics tried to proclaim Columba as a loyal servant of the Pope, while the non-conformists stressed the differences of practice between Rome and the early Celtic Church, making the saint into an early anti-Papist hero. In the 20th century, a charismatic Presbyterian churchman, George McLeod, founded a community on Columba’s island which modelled itself on the saint’s gritty practicality: it was supposed to combine religious practice with engagement with the problems of the world at its most sordid and grimy.

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 Since then, the Iona community has become inter denominational and, from an Orthodox perspective, far more political than spiritual. There is also an Anglican retreat house on the island and as of quite recently, a Roman Catholic one. So are the Orthodox, who have been organizing pilgrimages to Iona since 1997, simply johnniescome-lately who want to plant their own flag on Columba’s Iona, along with all the others? And where do the Orthodox stand in the contest between many different constituencies (by no means all religious) to claim a piece of Columba’s heritage? Ecologists call him an early green, Scottish nationalists call him a proto-patriot, feminists see him and the Celtic Church as pioneers of gender equality. So does it make sense, then, for an Orthodox Christian to ask: which is “our bit” of Saint Columba?

In the end, it is only the saint himself who can answer that question. …
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For the whole article  by Columba Bruce Clark, secretary of the Friends of Orthodoxy on Iona, and a senior journalist for The Economist, go to http://www.roadtoemmaus.net/back_issue_articles/RTE_17/Columba_Sails_East.pdf

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For Celtic Orthodoxy the real ‘authority’ is Father Seraphim and his monastery blog at http://www.mullmonastery.com/page/1/?s=St+Columba  Follow his struggles to found Mull Monastery, the first Orthodox monastery in the Hebrides in over a millennium.

 

Between Son and Mother

A virtual, photographic pilgrimage to shrines in Greece and Cyprus dedicated to the Feast of the Mother of God Presentation or Entry, Entrance, Eisodos in the Temple (November 21)

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Iconography of the Entrance of the Theotokos at Hilandari Monastery–MOUNT ATHOS

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The Monastery of Panagia Hozoviotissa in AmorgosENTRY96entry7

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Panagia Malteza of Santorini

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Panagia Odigitria of Kimolos

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The 11th Century Church of Panagia Kapnikarea in Athens

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The Monastery of Panagia of Machairas in Cyprus

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No one stands between Son and Mother

Give us salvation


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“Today, the most pure temple of the Savior, the precious bridal chamber and Virgin, the sacred treasure of God, enters the house of the Lord, bringing the grace of the Divine Spirit. The Angels of God praise her. She is the heavenly tabernacle.”

 

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Autumn Photo Sketches of Rila Monastery

The Monastery of St. John of Rila, Bulgaria

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The Monastery of St. John of Rila, Bulgaria

The main holy place of Bulgaria is Rila Monastery at which the relics of Venerable John (Ivan; c. 876-c. 946), the Wonderworker of Rila and patron-saint of this Orthodox country, rest. Rila Monastery is situated in the very heart of the Rila Mountains. Steep slopes covered with glorious woods, magnificent rocks, peace and quiet… All of this disposes a pilgrim’s soul towards the meeting with the holiness already at the turn of the Sofia – Blagoevgrad Motorway. And on your way back the spiritual delight changes into peaceful joy… And also into bitterness: in the places where the Divine grace is abundant and strong, one particularly realizes the incorrectness, vanity and worldliness of our ordinary life.

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Rila Monastery was founded by St. John in the 930s and acquired its present appearance in the mid nineteenth century. Only the Tower of Hrelyu is much older: it dates from the fourteenth century. All who visit the holy monastery for the first time are amazed at the brightness of the frescoes which is an uncommon feature for a monastery. However, not everyone knows that they depict the afterlife journeys of a soul through the so-called aerial “toll-houses”, or trials. The main cathedral of the monastery is dedicated to the feast of the Nativity of the Mother of God. The reliquary with the Venerable John’s relics rests there. Numerous miracles have occurred and continue to occur through the prayers of this holy man. His significance for Bulgaria and his national veneration can be compared with the veneration of St. Sergius of Radonezh in Russia; even the lives of these two saints are remarkably similar.

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There are three days of commemoration of St. John of Rila in the Church year: July 1/14, August 18/31, and October 19/November 1. The last of them falls on the period of the “golden autumn” (when leaves especially turn red and yellow) – the most beautiful time in the mountains, when it is so warm in the sun and where the beauty of the God’s creation meets with spiritual, heavenly beauty…
Photos by Yanina Alekseeva, Sofia.

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Frescoes depicting Toll Houses
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An Artist at Work
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Scilly Celtic Saints

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Aerial photo of the Isles of Scilly

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To continue our pilgrimage to the Celtic sacred sites and pilgrim routes of England, our next stop is Scilly –pronounced “silly”–Islands! Yet another look at Christian faith from a Celtic perspective. Have you been there? The Isles of Scilly (/ˈsɪli/CornishSyllan or Enesek Syllan) (Introduction of the “c” may be to prevent references to “silly” men or saints!) are an archipelago off the southwestern tip of the Cornish peninsula of Great Britain, comprising  5 Major, inhabited islands,St Mary’sTrescoSt Martin’sBryherSt Agnes and 140 others. 

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The Isles of Scilly (bottom left corner) are a part of the ceremonial county of Cornwall (white)

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Scilly Saints

Holiday Reflections on these Holy Isles

By Father Jonathan Hemmings

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“For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe.” (1 Corinthians 1:21)

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Forty miles south west off the Cornish coast are the beautiful Scilly Islands. Bathed by clear water, graced by an equitable and temperate climate, surrounded by wildlife in sea and air, seals, puffins and dolphins, they have a flora unique to the British Isles. The very names of some of these Islands, St.Mary, St.Agnes, St.Martin, St.Helen, suggest a link between faith and culture. Look a little deeper and one finds an important vein of Celtic Orthodox spirituality etched, sometimes quite literally into the very granite of the rocks that form the base of life in these offshore outposts of faith and spiritual powerhouses of prayer.

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St. Mary’s

The largest of the Islands, it was known at first as Ennor, the origin of which is obscure, it seems that the name of the island was taken from the dedication of the Church in the Old Town to Our Lady in mediaeval times. As “Star of the Sea” (Steren an Mor) the intercessions of the Mother of God are still sought for those who sail in these shipwreck strewn islands where the hazards of shallow tides and hazardous rocks still persist and catch the unwary voyager. [ For a list of shipwrecks of the Isles of Scilly go to http://list of shipwrecks of the Isles of ScillyThere is a little valley in the middle of the island known as Holy Vale.

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Bants Carn, St Mary’s

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Scilly St Mary’s Bant burial chamber entrance

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St. Agnes

The southernmost Island is that of St. Agnes. Named after the Roman Saint we find during Norman times the replacing of celtic saints with popular western saints. However, to the south east of the Island is the crescent- shaped St. Warna’s Cove which marks the spot where this Irish celtic nun landed and made her dwelling-place after sailing single handed from Ireland. It is remarkable to ponder on the courage and fearless spiritual enterprise of the Celtic Christians who used the Irish Sea much as we today would use the M6 motorway. St. Warna is the patron saint of the Scilly Island of St Agnes and prays for the salvation of those subject to wrecks. It may be noted that it is said that some of the more pagan element wanted shipwrecks in order to plunder the cargo in past times. At St. Warna’s Cove there is a holy well near to the shore where the saint lived in her hermitage and prayed. Nearby there is a large standing granite stone with an impressive and distinctive Cross emblazoned on its face made by the weathering of the wind!

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Porth Conger, St Agnes

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St Agnes, isles of Scilly and The Bar of sand which connects it to Gugh

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Views taken on or on the way to St Agnes

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Summer Sky – St Agnes, Scilly Isles

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Troy Town Maze, St. Agnes, Isles of Scilly

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Gugh. Gugh, St. Agnes, Isles of Scilly

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On the island of St Agnes, St Warna is the patron saint of shipwrecks

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St. Martin’s

The Island was originally called Mauded which is similar to the Breton name for the Cornish St. Mawes who has a small town named after him near Falmouth where he lived for a time after sailing from south Wales. In the Roman Calendar his feast day is November 18th. According to tradition he was a 6th Century Welsh hermit and Abbot, also called Maudetus or Maudez. He lived as a solitary and then went to an island off the coast of Brittany, France, where he is revered as St.Maudez. He is believed to have founded other monasteries and churches in Cornwall and Brittany. There is a tradition that Saint Mawgan ( a place near Newquay, Cornwall which has a holy well), if he is to be identified as the same, was at one time Bishop of the Scilly Islands. The transition to a completely different saint, St. Martin seems to be a “latinization” of the name, again from the time of Norman occupation.

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Offshore and inshore islands, St Martin’s, The Isles of Scilly

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Bryher Isles

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Bryher is the smallest inhabited island in the Isles of Scilly. It’s famous for the spectacular Hell Bay with it’s pounding waves crashing over the rocks on.

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The name of the Island was at one time St. Nicholas the patron saint of sea farers which seems most appropriate. This beautiful island boasts a Benedictine Priory established in 1114, the remains of which can still be seen today within the gardens of Tresco. It was probably established from the Abbey at Tavistock in Devon which was also dedicated to St. Nicholas.

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The arch from the wall of the mediaeval monastery in Tresco Abbey Gardens

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Abbey Gardens Tresco

Tresco Abbey Gardens, Scilly Isles, UK Looking at the plants in this garden it is difficult to believe that Tresco Abbey Gardens is situated in the British Isles. Containing sub-tropical plants from Australia, South Africa and South America – including Echiums, Agaves, Aloes, Proteas, Aeoniums, Strelitzias and palm trees, this garden looks as though it should be situated in the Mediterranean! However, it is located in England, on the small island of Tresco in the Scilly Isles (approximately 28 miles from the south west tip of Cornwall in the United Kingdom). The photographs in this set where taken in late August when a lot of the color had already left the gardens. However, the varied planting provides a superb example of the value of a clear garden structure filled with diverse and contrasting foliage – creating a wonderful green tapestry of architectural plants throughout the year. Details: With a stunning background of white sandy beaches and vivid turquoise sea, Tresco Abbey Gardens is an outstanding historic garden set amid the romantic ruins of a 16th century priory. The gardens were started by Augustus Smith, who moved to the island in 1834. The garden has subsequently been developed by four succeeding generations of the family from Augustus Smith. The gardens have many delightful features, often seen at their best in the warmth of the afternoon sun, ranging from the Abbey arch, the Neptune steps, the shell house and a number of tastefully placed sculptures (including one to the earth goddess Gaia), all bordered by fantastic foliage of varying shapes, textures, sizes and hues. Surrounded by sea and in the warmth of the Gulf Stream the climate is exceptionally mild and totally frost free in most years. With south facing terraces, these gardens have often been referred to as ‘Kew gardens without the roof’, because in mainland UK, you would only find these plants in a botanical garden glass house. Location: Tresco Abbey Gardens, Tr

Tresco Abbey Gardens, Scilly Isles, UK
Looking at the plants in this garden it is difficult to believe that Tresco Abbey Gardens is situated in the British Isles. Containing sub-tropical plants from Australia, South Africa and South America – including Echiums, Agaves, Aloes, Proteas, Aeoniums, Strelitzias and palm trees, this garden looks as though it should be situated in the Mediterranean! However, it is located in England, on the small island of Tresco in the Scilly Isles … With a stunning background of white sandy beaches and vivid turquoise sea, Tresco Abbey Gardens is an outstanding historic garden set amid the romantic ruins of a 16th century priory. The gardens were started by Augustus Smith, who moved to the island in 1834. The garden has subsequently been developed by four succeeding generations of the family from Augustus Smith. The gardens have many delightful features, often seen at their best in the warmth of the afternoon sun, ranging from the Abbey arch, the Neptune steps, the shell house and a number of tastefully placed sculptures (including one to the earth goddess Gaia), all bordered by fantastic foliage of varying shapes, textures, sizes and hues. Surrounded by sea and in the warmth of the Gulf Stream the climate is exceptionally mild and totally frost free in most years. With south facing terraces, these gardens have often been referred to as ‘Kew gardens without the roof’, because in mainland UK, you would only find these plants in a botanical garden glass house.

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Tresco Abbey Gardens

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King Charles’ Castle is a ruined coastal artillery fort near the north extremity of the island that dates back to the sixteenth century

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Samson

The island is connected with the welsh saint St. Samson of Dol who travelled to Cornwall, Brittany and the Channel Isles. Samson was educated by St. Illtud at the Abbey of Llanilltud Fawr (Llantwit Major) in Glamorganshire; where he was ordained a deacon and then a priest. Samson of Dol found it necessary by the Will of God to remove himself to the monastery on Ynys Byr (Caldey Island). He eventually became Abbot there and considerably established a strong community. Later in his life he chose the life of a hermit near the River Severn but, being made a Bishop, he turned to missionary work in Cernow (Cornwall) and came to the Scillies where one of the islands is named after him. He died on 28th July AD 565 and was buried in Dol Cathedral in Brittany. His ‘Life’ which survives, was written the following century. In the AD 930s, King Aethelstan acquired a number of his relics – including an arm and his crozier – which were proudly displayed in Milton Abbey (Dorset) until the time of the Reformation. The Island of Samson was inhabited until quite recently.

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Old Cottage on South Hill, Samson

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Tean

This little northern island was also inhabited until recently. The name Tean derives from the name Theona. There are ruins of her dwelling place still where once as a hermit she prayed and gave glory to the Holy and Life Giving Trinity and also remains of some celtic graves of the 6th century nearby. Recent excavations have unearthed some interesting Romano-British finds. These include an older ‘toothless’ woman whose head lies under the altar of the later built chapel, she may in fact be St.Theona, after whom the island is named.

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Tean, Isles of Scilly. View from the Great Hill – geograph.org

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Hedge Rock and Tean, Isles of Scilly

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Old Man, Tean, Isles of Scilly

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St. Helen’s

We know that this island was called St. Helen, the Blessed mother of Holy Constantine the Great, from 16th century maps but it is associated with another ancient saint, that of Elidius or St. Lide as he is also known. On the uninhabited island of St. Helen’s are the remains of St. Elidius’ Hermitage which contains an 8th century Christian monastic chapel which was active until the 11th. century. This holy place is still honoured today with local people making a Pilgrimage to the site on 1st August. There is an interesting connection between the Scilly Islands and the Christian mission to Norway. In 980 Olaf Tryggvason came to the Scilly Islands. Snori Sturluson recounts in his “Saga” that this notorious marauding Viking met Saint Elidius and heard of “the God of the Christians.” He was converted to Christianity and agreed to be baptized and all those with him. He took the faith with him returning to Norway and Iceland with “three priests and other learned men.” As King of Norway he began the process of evangelism which was continued by his successor Saint Olaf.

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Olaf Tryggvason, who visited the islands in 986. It is said an encounter with a cleric here, at St. Helen’s, led him to Christianise Norway

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St. Helen

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St. Helen’s Viewed From The Block House. Tresco

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On the uninhabited island of St. Helen’s are the remains of St. Elidius’ Hermitage which contains an 8th century Christian chapel

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St. Helen’s Pool

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Early mediaeval chapel on St Helen’s

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Well known for its pest house, in which sailors infected with plague would be quarantined, St Helen’s is a prominent landmark on the Scilly coastline

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Church of St Elid on the island of St Helen’s

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Sailing into history

What strikes me about these saints is their adventurous and persistent spirit in Christ-their sheer delight and desire to bring Christ to every part of these Islands however small, blessing this part of God’s vineyard by their work, prayers and holiness of life. Whilst on St.Mary’s I learned from the curator of the Museum, that in August 2000, on June 28th a Breton vessel named Saint Efflam (founder of a monastery in Brittany, France. He was the son of a British prince) from an enterprise called Odysee Celtique (Celtic Odyssey) sailed into St. Mary’s harbour re-enacting ancient celtic monastic voyages-it was a Breton vessel and a reconstruction of a traditional curragh.

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Curragh

The boat was constructed from a frame of hazel poles over which was stretched tar-covered canvas imitating the ox skins which would have been used originally. Whilst at sea the crew slept on the open boat and had few concessions to modern facilities during the voyage. As Amanda Martin says in her article in Scilly 2000 in “The Voyage of the Sant Efflam” such an experience was not for the faint hearted. “The whole feat requires a tremendous physical effort not to be undertaken lightly.”

These living saints give inspiration to us today by their energy and boldness for the gospel’s sake. In Christ we should imitate their humility, simplicity and calling.

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A prayer

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My boat is small

The ocean vast

Lord fill my sail

Maintain my mast

Christ my captain

Spirit’s power

Save me Lord

In danger’s hour.

Amen

*

These “fools for Christ” saved many because they preached Christ crucified and many believed and so they put the Christ in Scilly. Perhaps we, in this our time of God’s good grace need to make a similar Scilly Pilgrimage!

Eros, Philia, Agape

canova

Love 

* This is by far the most famous neo-classical sculpture ever commissioned. It was sculpted by Antonio Canova. It was first commissioned in 1787.

*
“What type of love do you mean: Eros, Philia or Agape?”
The man looked at him without understanding a word.
“There are three words in Greek to designate love,” Petrus said. “Today you are seeing the manifestation of Eros, that sentiment between two persons.”

“The two seem to love one another. In a short time they will be fighting alone for life, establishing themselves in a house and taking part in the same adventure: that’s what makes love grand and dignified. He will pursue his career, she probably knows how to cook and will make an excellent housewife because since she was a little girl she was brought up to do that. She will accompany him, they will have children and they will manage to build something together, they will be happy for ever.”

“Al of a sudden, however, this story could happen the other way around. He is going to feel that he is not free enough to show all the Eros, all the love that he has for other women. She may begin to feel that she has sacrificed a career and a brilliant life to accompany her husband. So, instead of creating together, each of them will feel robbed in their way of loving. Eros, the spirit that joins them, will start to display only his bad side. And what God had meant to be man’s most noble sentiment will begin to be a source of hatred and destruction.”

“Notice how odd it is,” continued my guide. “Despite being good or bad, the face of Eros is never the same in all persons.”

Then he continued, pointing to an elderly couple:
“Look at those two: they haven’t let themselves be affected by hypocrisy, like so many others. They look like they are a couple of farm workers: hunger and need have obliged them to overcome many a difficulty together. They have discovered love through work, which is where Eros shows his most beautiful face, also known as Philia.”
“What’s Philia?”
“Philia is love in the form of friendship. It’s what I feel for you and others. When the flame of Eros no longer able to shine, it’s Philia who keeps couples together.”

“And what about Agape?”
“Agape is total love, the love that devours those that experience it. Whoever knows and experiences Agape sees that nothing else in this world is of any importance, only loving. This was the love that Jesus felt for humanity, and it was so great that it shook the stars and changed the course of man’s history.”
“During the millennia of the history of civilization, many people have been smitten by this Love that Devours. They had so much to give – and the world demanded so little – that they were obliged to seek out the deserts and isolated places because love was so great that it transfigured them. They became the hermit saints that we know today.”
“For me and you who have experienced another form of Agape, this life here may seem hard and terrible. Yet the Love that Devours makes everything lose its importance: these men live only to be consumed by their love.”
He took a pause.
“Agape is the Love that Devours,” he repeated once more, as if this was the phrase that best defined that strange type of love. “Luther King once said that when Christ spoke of loving our enemies he was referring to Agape. Because according to him, it was impossible to like our enemies, those who do us harm and try to make our daily suffering all the worse.”
“But Agape is a lot more than liking. It is a sentiment that invades everything, fills all the cracks and makes any attempt at aggression turn to dust.”
“There are two forms of Agape. One is isolation, life dedicated only to contemplation. The other is precisely the opposite: contact with other human beings, and enthusiasm, the sacred sense of work. Enthusiasm means trance, ecstasy, connecting with God. Enthusiasm is Agape directed at some idea, something.”
“When we love and believe in something from the bottom of our soul, we feel stronger than the world and we are imbued with a serenity that comes from the certainty that nothing can conquer our faith. This strange force makes us always make the right decisions at the right time, and we are surprised at our own capacity when we fulfill our objective.”
“Enthusiasm usually manifests itself in all its power in the early years of our life. We still have a strong tie with the divinity and we give ourselves with such zeal to our toys that dolls take on a life of their own and little tin soldiers manage to march. When Jesus said that the kingdom of Heaven belonged to the children, he was referring to Agape in the form of Enthusiasm. The children reached him without paying any attention to his miracles, his wisdom, the Pharisees and the apostles. They came happily, driven by Enthusiasm.”


taken from THE PILGRIMAGE by Paulo Coehlo

“May you never lose your enthusiasm at any moment for the rest of your life: it’s your greatest strength, intent on the final victory. You cannot let it slip through your fingers just because as time passes we have to face some small and necessary defeats.”

Source:  Paulo Coehlo Writer Official Site http://paulocoelhoblog.com/2013/04/05/love-as-eros-philos-and-agape/