Above the red rock of mount Parnon, at 650 meters, there is a monastery, which may leave you wondering about not only how the monks achieved to approach that point but also how they managed to build it and live there so many years ago.
The history of the Elonas Monastery begins in 1300. Legend has it that the shepherds of the area saw a light at night on the inaccessible slope of Mount Parnon. At first, they did not pay attention but over time, the phenomenon cultivated their curiosity so they looked for the bishop of Reon-Prastos. The bishop gathered the village and tried to find an explanation for the strange incident.
They realized that the light was from a candle in front of an icon, but the height made impossible any attempt to approach it. After their prays, the icon descended at a lower level and the braver men who climbed on the mountain realized that it was an icon of “Panagia Vrefokratousa”(Virgin Mary holding the infant). They built then, a little wooden church on the spot and made a rope ladder for easier access.
In the area where the icon was found, two monks were practicing, Kallinikos and Dositheos. The bishop asked them to settle at the place where the icon was found. With the help of the inhabitants, they built a small church, essentially creating the monastery. Traditions and manuscripts state that the two monks found a horrible end in the hands of two Turks. According to the same tradition, the two slaughterers were blinded when they tried to loot the monastery temple and regained their vision again only after the prayers of the neighboring inhabitants.
Therefore, this is maybe the reason for the privileges of this village during the Turkish occupation. After the failed revolution of 1770 in Orlofika, the Turks destroyed the Peloponnese in retaliation, destroyed the monastery, and slaughtered the monks. It was rebuilt on its foundations a few years later at an even larger size.
The monastery does not have a dome or hagiographies but its iconostasis is carved from walnut and representations from the Old and New Testaments are painted on it. The unique and miraculous image of the Panagia Vrefokratousa is the work of the evangelist Luke according to tradition. As the Hierarchical Commissioner, Nikolaos Sarantis, says when he looks at the blackened ceiling from the smoke of the candles, “every candle – a pain and a desire”.
The church is dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin Mary and its celebration is on 15 August.
You can visit this monastery from the port of Leonidas on your sailing holiday through the Argo-Saronic Gulf.