History of the Monastery of Chrysopigi


The Holy Patriarchal and Stavropegic Monastery of Chrysopigi is situated in Chania, Crete, 3km away from the city center, on the road to Souda Harbour. The Monastery is dedicated to the Mother of God of the Life-Giving Spring, popularly known as ‘Chrysopigi’ (the Golden Fountain), and celebrates its feast day on Easter Friday. Every year on this day thousands of pilgrims come to the Monastery to venerate the wonderworking icon of The Virgin Mary.

The Monastery of Chrysopigi, which since 1976 has been a convent, was originally founded at the end of the 16th century as a monastic community of men. Its founder was a physician and philosopher Ioannis Chartophylakas, an important and influential figure in Chania’s society of the time.

Over the course of centuries, the Monastery of Chrysopigi went through periods of both prosperity and decline. During the time of Venetian rule (1211-1669), it was an important spiritual centre for the whole of Crete with many monks and a rich library. Under Ottoman rule (1645/1669-1899), despite all the afflictions it suffered at the hands of the Turks, the Monastery continued its spiritual tradition, contributing in particular to the education of the enslaved nation, and in 1654 it became a Patriarchal Stavropegic Monastery. (A Patriarchal and Stavropegic monastery is one directly dependent on the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Constantinople, which in turn protects and ensures the rights and the laws of the monastery.)

In 1821, at the beginning of the Greek Revolution, Chrysopigi was completely destroyed and deserted.
Later in the 19th century the Monastery was renovated and new monks came to stay. During the Second World War the Germans turned the Monastery into their administrative headquarters, forcing the monks to leave and causing grievous damage to the Monastery’s architectural structure. After that there followed a period of what appeared to be terminal decline.

In 1976, Mother Theosemni (†2000), along with the first two sisters of the present-day sisterhood, came and settled at Chrysopigi, which had been in a state of ruin since the German occupation, and thus the Monastery was transformed into a community of nuns. During the following years, the sisters reconstructed all monastery buildings using the existing old stones from the destroyed buildings and incorporating other natural materials from the environment. Alongside, the two Museums of Chrysopigi (the Ecclesiastical and the Folk Museum) were established, where the surviving historical treasures of the Monastery are now safeguarded and preserved.

In the 1990’s the Chrysopigi community also rebuilt its old monastic dependency of St Kyriaki, located in an area with countless natural caves, some of which over the centuries had been inhabited by monk ascetics. The reconstruction of St Kyriaki and the regeneration of the wider area revived the long ascetic tradition of this sanctified place. Here the community also built its new monastic complex dedicated to the Transfiguration of the Lord.

Today the Monastery is a large community of sisters receiving a multitude of pilgrims, many of whom are young people discovering the authenticity of life in the worship and the tradition of the Orthodox Church.

The sisterhood also welcomes young women from around the world (from Western Europe, the Americas, Africa, Korea and other countries) who seek for a lived experience of Orthodox monasticism. Staying at the Monastery they take part in the daily life of the sisterhood (liturgical worship, prayer, and work activities), learn Greek language and traditional ecclesiastical arts, such as icon painting, embroidery, etc., as well as organic land cultivation. In this way they feel the living presence of the Orthodox monastic tradition, which, by the grace of God, continues throughout the centuries,calling each one to a life with true meaning.

    Home page