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GREECE | Tuesday, 6 January 2015 | Views [578]

View of Skala from Monastery of St. John the Evangelist, Patmos

View of Skala from Monastery of St. John the Evangelist, Patmos

WE WEREN’T THE FIRST TO BE SHANGHAI’D TO PATMOS.  Way back in 95 AD the Romans exiled a Christian named John from Ephesus to our tiny island in the Dodecanese.  Brother of the man who would be known as St. James, John the Evangelist set up shop in a cave just up the hill from the port at Skala.  It wasn’t much as caves go until Jesus appeared to John in a blinding light and cleaved the cave into three sections.  It was there that Jesus gave his disciple a glimpse of things to come and John recorded the Apocalypse in what would become the Book of Revalations making Patmos the most famous site in Christendom that you’ve never heard of.


   Cave of the Apocalypse

Our captivity was a bit different.  Patmos is accessible only by ferry and the schedules are limited in winter.  Even those that do run depart at midnight, arriving in their next port of call in the wee hours of morning.  The private ferry we wanted to take us to Samos was undergoing repairs and the strong winds would have prohibited sailing anyway, so we were forced to adlib. 


   Jacob, our host

We were lucky to find Villa Zachara.  Most hotels on Patmos are closed but Jacob and his family live in the hotel so they stay open.  He is a wealth of information.  It was he who told us all about John and his visit from Jesus and in much more detail than we really needed.  He even drew a very accurate and detailed map to the Cave of the Apocalypse and upward to the monastery.


   Monaster of John the Evangelist

There was a small service taking place when we arrived at the Cave of the Apocalypse — it seems there is always a service taking place during the extended Christmas of the Greek Orthodox Church — so we continued to follow Jacob’s map to the Monastery of St. John the Evangelist, well-protected from pirates at the top of the hill.  The views of Skala were wonderful as we wandered around the quiet monastery.  There are probably worse ways to live than as a monk.

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  Blessing the Cross                             The frozen chosen one

The weather took a turn for the worse overnight and the temperature dropped to near freezing.  We even had a brief snow flurry as we walked to the harbor for the Epiphany festival.  The crowd had already gathered along the dock and the clerics and other dignitaries were huddled on the dais.  Five young men in bathing suits shivered at the water’s edge.  The priest blessed a small wooden cross, held it on high then threw it into the water.  The young men dove in after it and fought, water polo style, to be the first.  Three crosses were thrown in total, three young men were blessed and two were wondering what they had been thinking.


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