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Faneromeni Monastery near Sitia

Place description

The Panagia Faneromeni Monastery (Revealed Virgin Mary) can be found in the Trachilas area of Sitia, situated on the brink of a steep region between Cape Trachilas and Babakia. It is approximately 1.5km from the sea and 8km west of Sitia town. The monastery is nestled in a verdant area beside the small Agii Pantes (All Saints) gorge, which is perfect for a leisurely stroll. Numerous caves within the gorge once served as the homes of the monastery’s hermits.

At the heart of the monastery lies a two-aisled church dedicated to the Assumption (celebrated on 15 August) and St. George (3 November). The church is adorned with ancient frescoes dating back to 1455, though they have been blackened by a fire, likely caused by the Turks. Surrounding the courtyard are several small structures that form a tiny settlement where pilgrims stay during the monastery’s celebrations in August. In addition to these modern buildings, there are six ancient monk cells that retain their medieval architectural style. Visitors can also see the “Big Cell” with its medieval arch, which functioned as an olive oil mill (fabrica), and the “Oven-house,” where monks prepared their bread.

The name Faneromeni (=Revealed) originates from the icon of the Virgin Mary that once appeared in the small “Hermit’s Cave” located next to the temple’s sanctuary. According to legend, a shepherd discovered the icon in the cave and placed it in his bag along with his lunch. When he arrived home, he asked his wife to open the bag and look inside, but she only found food. The following day, the shepherd returned to the cave and saw the icon had reappeared in the same spot (=> Faneromeni). Despite taking it with him again, the same sequence of events occurred twice more. He then realized that it was the Virgin Mary’s will to remain there and enlisted two monks to construct a monastery at the site. To this day, the small icon is preserved in the cave’s crevice.

Presently, the monastery is almost deserted, with crowds of pilgrims only arriving on the 15th of August from the surrounding area. A traditional ceremony takes place at this time, during which the icon of the Virgin Mary, known as the “Revealed Lady,” is carried on foot from the St. George church in Skopi, accompanied by the pilgrims.

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