Holy Monastery of the Theotokos Tsoukas of Ioannina
In Epirus you are fascinated by the musical dew of the forest, the singing fountains, the stone bridges, the paintings of the rocks. Silent Beauty … as we approach, the fortress stone-built monastery. Tsouka, in the local dialect, means a round top of a rock, thus the name of the monastery. We pass through the stone, arched gate, with the sculpture of St. George. Entering, we see the icon of Genesis of the Virgin, dedicated to the monastery, next to the candles where many flames “stand high” for our pleas. We climb to the courtyard, where the oldest building of the monastery stands since 1734, after the katholikon. Its recently discovered wall, has paintings on the walls with plants, flowers, birds, angelic forms that “lead” straight to Paradise.
According to tradition, the monastery of Tsoukas was built a bit, after finding the icon of the Virgin Mary, on the rock. The villagers decided to build a chapel lower to “house” the picture. Her desire, however, was different, since every night, the image in a miraculous way turned back to where it had been found. Eventually the monastery was built on the rock edge. Perhaps, tradition also hides a historical core. There may have been a hermitage on the rock, where the monastery was built. Under Islamic law, only if there was a “worship space” at that point, it was permissible to build a church. Abbot Gabriel built the Monastery with magnificent stone builders in 1781, but it was reconstructed in 1874, since the damage of time was too much ….The reservoir stands in the yard since 1730, which “gathers” the rain and water snow. All around katholikon, there are the cells and the hagiates.
The katholikon with wax all around
The Epirus custom suggests to have candle wax all around the church after an oblation. This way the evil is “exorcised” and the health, prosperity and welfare of the family are “secure” …
The monastery wall was erected in 1854. For three centuries, monastery departments have been gradually built . After the last renovation, it took its final form, its owners had envisioned. The monk Stavrianos leads us to the backyard, with the famous balcony, over the ravine of Arachthos river, which goes downhill and “blatant,” opening the street of thoughts and emotions. “Angels were unrolling the sky and a hawk was roosting on the edge of the rock, totally surrendered to the honey of the sun,” the words of G. Seferis, totally appropriate for that moment. Solar reflections on eternal snowy peaks …. “That the sun is for our senses what God is for our mind . One illuminates the visible world and the other one does for the invisible ” – Gregory the Theologian. The dusk had however begun …
The tour of the monastery with the Abbot Father Philotheos
The knowledge of Abbot Archimandrite Filotheou, “about theology, architecture and architecture” impressed me and I carry it to you. He is the writer of a corresponding chorus.
“The sacred step declares the inaccessibility of the essence of the Holy Trinity and the main temple, the knowledge of the Holy Trinity through the unrivaled divine energies and divine providence. The small katholikon is built of white stone and is a one- , triangle. The hagiographies of the 17th-18th century cover its entire surface. In the shield, the Almighty is surrounded by a representation of the Heavenly Liturgy …
The Universe is composed of the visible and invisible world, so the church consists of the main temple and the sacred step. These two parts are the image of the two worlds, unobtrusive and visible. The sacred step depicts the invisible divinity of Christ and the main church, the visible humanity of Christ, the two parts of the temple give us the image of the soul and body of the present Godman.
The church is the image of God, the image of the world, image of our soul.
How to go
Fresh mountain air, colours of green, white of snow and deep blue of the sky.
You should definitely pay a visit at the museum “Contemporary Art by Theodoros Papagiannis” in Elliniko. The great sculptor was born there and his works relate to his vivid memories and the experiences of his place.
When we celebrate
On 8th of September, Birth of the Virgin Mary