The Holy Monastery of Great Meteoron

It was founded in the middle of the 14th century by Holy Athanasios the Meteorite (first owner and organiser of the Monastic coenobium) at the largest rock (Wide Rock).

His successor and second owner of the Holy Monastery was the monk, Holy Ioasaf, former “king” Ouresis John, son of the Serbian-Greek “king”, that resided in Trikala, Simeon Ouresis Paleologos.

The Holy Monastery of Great Meteoron

At the sanctum of the catholic there are important frescos of the Macedonian school and the remarkable frescos of the main church and the narthex are believed to be created by Georgie, student of Theophanous the Cretan.

At the above Holy Monastery are the chapels of the Mother of God (Virgin Mary of the Meteorite Stone), of Holy Baptist, of Saint Equal Apostles Constantine and Helen and of Saint Nektarios (more modern).

The most important buildings are the centre (kitchen), the old age home, the “trapeza”(dining hall) and others. At the Holy Monastery of the Great Meteoro there is a remarkable and rich collection of manuscripts, icons and holy heirlooms.

The monastery, built on an imposing rock, is the oldest, the biggest and the most important among the monasteries of Meteora which are preserved today. It was founded little before the mid-14th century (around 1340) by a scholar monk of Mount Athos, Saint Athanasios Meteorites. In the beginning, he built on the rock a church to the Mother of God. He also dedicated the monastery (the Monastery of the Virgin Mary of Meteora rock-Petra-) to her. Besides, he built cells so that the monks who began to concentrate there could live. Then, he built another church honoured to the Transfiguration of Christ. This church constituted the monastery katholikon and the definitive name of the monastery attributes to this church.

An important person was also his successor and second founder of the monastery, monk Saint Iosaph (one-time king Ioannis Uresis Paleologos). During the 40 years of his monastic life, Saint Iosaph built cells, hospital, cistern, he renovated the church of the Transfiguration (it is the sanctuary which has today the form of a church) and he was among the first ones who built the monastery of Ypsilotera (of Kalligraphon) on a steep and inaccessible rock opposite the monastery of Great Meteoron.

The monastery flourished particularly in the mid-16th century. Thanks to imperial and royal donations it became the most powerful of all the monasteries of Meteora. In 1544/1545, today’s magnificent nave and narthex of the imposing katholikon (the old church turned into sanctuary) were built. Later, a refectory, a kitchen, a hospital-home for the aged, a tower, small chapels and joined ladders were built. On the other hand, the monastery suffered from destructions: incursions, thieving, looting and fires.

The monastery of Great Meteoron has already more than 600 years of existence. Its monastic presence and its fame have never ceased to exist. It is a real bastion of orthodox monasticism and Christendom.

Saint Athanasios Meteorites was born in Ypate (once New Patra) in 1302. Among the lofty and steep rocks, he chose a land of about 50000 m2 (named “Platys Lithos”- broad rock- or “Platylithos”) as his hermitage. He himself gave it the name of Great Meteoron. Since then, this name has been established, retained, generalized in the ensemble of the monasteries and rocks and has gone far beyond the borders of Greece. Besides, the coenobitic system and the oldest written Canon of the monasteries of Meteora owe their existence to this indefatigable intellectual man.

Athanasios’ holy personality was characterized by asceticism, quieting disposition, organizational ability, the gift of making miracles and prophesying and, above all, by modesty. Probably, because of his modesty, he didn’t write any texts, although he had the necessary education and knowledge. During his whole life he remained a plain monk until he died in peace in 1380 at the age of 78.

Saint Iosaph was born in 1349/1350 and he was son of the Greco-Serbian King of Thessaly and Epirus (with seat in Trikala) Symeon Uresis Paleologos, who died in 1370. So, Ioannis succeeded his father. However, he soon denied his power, his wealth and the royal luxury and became a poor monk. He settled in the monastery in the early 1373 and he became monk under the name of Iosaph. He was 22 years old at that time. Iosaph’s holy personality was characterized by gentleness, benevolence, quieting disposition and intelligence. He probably died in 1422/1423.

The two founders of the monastery (Athanasios and Iosaph) remained plain monks until their death. But, others joined them. In its prime (in the mid-16th century), the monastery had about 300 monks and therefore, it was a spiritual hive. Then, the number of monks decreased and unfortunately, nowadays, there are only 3 monks. Monastery abbot is Metropolitan Athanasios Athanasiou, who is very active in renovation, building and charity matters.