Patriarchal Exarchate of Patmos

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The Patriarchal Exarchate of Patmos consists of the entire Island of Patmos (Greek: Πάτμος), Leipso, Agathonesion and Arkioi and its constituent monasteries and churches. The exarchate is under the jurisdiction of the Church of Constantinople in accordance with the Venerable Patriarchal and Synodical Act and Statute 1155/81. Patmos island is also referred to as the Jerusalem of the Aegean Sea, since it is the island of ascetic austerity and is a UNESCO World Heritage site [1]. The Patriarchal Exarch and Abbot of the Monastery of St. John the Theologian is His Grace Archimandrite Andipas Nikitaras.


Patmos is the northernmost island of the Dodecanese and is populated with churches and communities of Orthodox Christians. During the period of Roman rule, the island fell into a decline. The population decreased, and the island became a place for banishing criminals or political and religious troublemakers.

In 95 AD, St. John the Theologian was sent into exile on the island as a religious troublemaker. He remained on the island for eighteen months during which he lived in a cave below a known temple, at the time, dedicated to Diana. In this cave, he narrated a vision he was having of Jesus that is the Book of Revelation which describes the details of the Apocalypse but is more a description about the "the Church" - outside of time. Revelation was also written as an exhortation to the Christian believers to stay true to their faith during the persecutions near the end of the first century.[2]

In 313 AD, Christianity was recognised by the Roman Empire and this also spread to the Dodecanesse. The empire of the Byzantium exercised control of Patmos and the other islands and by the 4th century the temple to Diana had been removed. Directly over this temple a church dedicated to St. John the Theologian was built but this was destroyed later between the 6th and 9th centuries during a series of raids by various Arab groups.

The island remained deserted until 1088, when the Emperor granted Patmos to the monk Christodoulos. His intention was to establish a monastery and build this monastery over the remains of the little church built over the remains of a temple dedicated to Diana. The monastery has since been in continuous operation for over 900 years.

During the 11th and 12th centuries, the island of Patmos was also subject to raids by Saracen and Norman pirates, which were the catalyst for building the fortified walls surrounding the monastery, giving it the modern day castle-like appearance. The small town (Chora) within the "castle" was probably established during the middle of the 17th century and has a labyrinth style street arrangement. [3]

During the Turco-Italian War of 1912, Patmos was captured and controlled by the Italians. The island remained under their control until the end of World War II, when it was returned to Greece.

The whole island is dominated by the two monasteries, built in his honour and memory, and Chora, the island’s historic center, are all declared World Heritage sites by UNESCO in 2006.

The God-Trodden island

The tradition of the church holds, that the Lord himself stepped foot on the island of Patmos using the following account as reference:

In the Book of the Revelation (Apocalypse, Chapter 1:12-18) a detailed description of the appearance of Christ in His glory is given by the Apostle ... "His countenance was as the sun shineth in its strength" (Rev. 1, 16). St. John continutes by describing his actions to this ... "he fell at His feet as dead" (Rev. 1, 17)

For the church, this proves that Christ's feet were touching the floor of the cave for if it had been a vision in heaven, he would not have been able to fall at His feet. This wondrous bodily presence of the Lord in the cave is reason ascribed to the great earthquake that made the rock in the Cave of the Apocalypse split in three forming a witness to the doctrine of the Holy Trinity.

To the church, this is the only location in Europe that God has walked making it the most sacred destination in Europe, followed by Mount Athos.


The ship that turned to stone

According to popular belief, if one looks across the water from the Monastery of St. John on a clear day, it is possible to see a rock standing alone in the middle of the sea. The rock looks like an overturned ship with its keel facing up towards the sky.

During the time that the righteous Christodoulos was building the monastery, a pirate ship approached the island with evil intentions. Christodoulos prayed to God to save the island from the pirates, since they had no place to hide to protect themselves. God answered his prayers by capsizing the ship and turning it to stone. The island was saved, and the ship that turned to stone is still around to remind us of this miracle

See also

The Monastery of St. John the Theologian

See Main Article: Monastery of St. John the Theologian (Patmos, Greece)

The Monastery Cave of the Apocalypse

See Main Article: Cave of the Apocalypse

Theological School of Patmos

See main article Theological School of Patmos

The Baptistry of John

See Main article Baptistry of John (located in the village of Skala)

The Rock of Kynops

See Main article Rock of Kynops (located in the port of Skala)

Caves of Kynops and Sykamia

See Main article: Kynops

Monastery of the Annunciation

See Main article Monastery of the Annunciation

Saints and Monastics


  1. UNESCO, World Heritage Site #942, webpage:WHC-UNESCO-942
  2. P. N. Tarazi, The New Testament - Introduction, Vol. 3 - Johannine Writings, St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, Crestwood, New York, 2004 ISBN 0-88141-264-3
  3. Labyrinth style street designs are common on the islands purposely arranged to create a sense of confusion to pirates or threats intent on raiding the towns.

External link

  • For further information about the island of Patmos see Wikipedia