Holy Monastery of Mega Spilaion
The historical monastery
The historical monastery is, according to many, also the oldest monastery in Greece. But one thing is for sure: it is undeniably one of the most impressive pilgrimage destinations of Orthodoxy.
It is located ten kilometres north-west to Kalavryta on the road connecting the Patras-Athens national highway with Kalavryta, built vertically on a steep rock, on a 940m altitude. Perched on the rock, like a single entity with it, the monastery with its eight floors and the katholikon unfolds in its interior. Here, in the dark embrace of the rock, the faithful stand in awe and admiration before the actual essence of devoutness, sense the futility of matter and the frivolousness of everyday struggles.
History of Mega Spilaion
According to history, the Monastery was built in 363 A.D. by two monks from Thessaloniki, Symeon and Theodoros, who were priests in Jerusalem. Whilst there, each one separately had a vision who instructed them to go to Achaia to find the Holy Icon of Panagia made of mastic and wax by Luke the Evangelist. After many wanderings they met a shepherdess here, Efrosyni, who led them to the cave where the sought for Holy Icon rested, as the girl had previously found it at the fountain of the cave. This cave fountain is currently known as the “The Mainten’s Fountain” holy water, while Efrosyni is honoured as a Saint. According to tradition, the Holy Icon was found next to the fountain and was kept by a horrendous dragon, who was killed by lightning when he attacked the two monks who were trying to reveal the shrine amidst dense vegetation. Then, the two monks built a small church and a few small cells, aided by the crowds of faithful, who flocked to kneel before the miraculous icon of Mother Mary.