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The Monastery of St. John

Listed under Sacred Spaces in Dodecanese Islands, Greece.

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Rich in natural beauty, the island of Patmos was populated from as early as 500 BC, with the first known temple a 4th century BC hill-top sanctuary of the goddess Diana. During the period of Roman rule the island was used as a place of banishment for political and religious prisoners and St. John the Theologian, one of the twelve apostles of Jesus, was exiled there in 95 AD. St. John remained on the island for eighteen months during which time he lived in a small cave near the temple of Diana. In that cave exists a fissure in the rock wall from which issued a series of oracular messages which St. John transcribed as the Biblical chapter of Revelations. During his time in the sacred cave, now known as the Holy Grotto of the Revelation, St. John also composed the Fourth Gospel.

The eastern Christian empire of Byzantium exercised control over the isle of Patmos and in the 4th century the ancient shrine of the goddess Diana was torn down, to be replaced by a church dedicated to St. John. Patmos next entered history in 1088 when a monastery was built upon the remains of the old church, itself positioned upon the older shrine of Diana. Subjected to raids by Saracens and Norman pirates during the 11th and 12th centuries, the monastery was frequently enlarged and fortified, giving it the castle-like appearance it has today. The small town of Hora surrounding the monastery dates mostly from the 17th century and its labyrinthine street arrangement was purposefully designed to confuse pirates intent on raiding the town and monastery.

More on the Monastery of St. John from Sacred Sites.

Written by  Martin Gray.

Other expert and press reviews

“Historic Centre (Chorá) with the Monastery of Saint John "the Theologian" and the Cave of the Apocal”

'The small island of Pátmos in the Dodecanese is reputed to be where St John the Theologian wrote both his Gospel and the Apocalypse. A monastery dedicated to the ‘beloved disciple’ was founded there in the late 10th century and it has been a place of p… Read more...

Written by press. UNESCO

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