Trip Start Sep 05, 2005
Trip End Nov 30, 2005

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Flag of Greece  ,
Tuesday, September 20, 2005

The island of Patmos is where John received the vision is the book of Revelation. It is a beautiful little island. There are currently 3,000 inhabitants not counting tourists. The island has sanctioned off a lot of land that no one is allowed to build anything on to preserve the atmosphere, and it makes it really picturesque and peaceful.
We visited two places on the island, the Grotto of St. John and the monastery of St. John. The Grotto is apparently where John received his revelation, and where one of his students wrote it down as he dictated it, but there is no evidence of that except for the fact that this little cave is on the right island. I would rather think of it as a place similar to the place he wrote it instead the THE place, but that's just me. There is a small chapel built outside the cave that extends into the cave and is dedicated to St. Anne (the mother of Mary) and was built in A.D. 1088. John was in Ephesus in A.D. 95 and exciled to the island in A.D. 96, so the chapel was built less then 100 years after he was there. Everything inside is Greek Orthodox, so there are candles and icons and you can't take pictures. We saw the spot where John supposedly laid his head and placed his hand and the spot where his student wrote the book as John dictated. Another saint, whose name I don't know, has his remains here. He founded a school in Patmos for teachers, and basically helped preserve Greek heritage and culture during the Ottoman occupation. On the roof of the cave, there is a stone split in three, like the trinity, and people come and put their hand there to receive a blessing.
After leaving the Grotto, we went up to the top of the island and visited the monastery. It is a Greek Orthodox monastery, and the sanctuary is set up kind of like the Jewish temples used to be. As you go in, it gets holier. There were several mosaics and frescos which were really pretty. The building used to be a temple to Diana (Artemis), was turned into a monastery in the shape of a boat, and then into a fortress, so it's very interesting architecturally. You can still see elements from all three periods in the building. At one point I was leaning on a column from the temple period, looking at frescos from the monastery period, and seeing walls in the background that were from the fortress period. It was cool. Currently, it is monastery that houses 15 monks who are in charge of the library and restoration. There was a large wooden beam we saw that they bring down at special times of the year and beat on to scare away evil spirits. At Easter they fly to Jerusalem, light a candle, fly back, and take that light all over Greece to the different churches. In the inner part of the monastery, the monks pray and read the Bible from 3 am to 6 am. They expect Jesus to come after midnight, so they want to be ready. Practically everything in the inner sanctuary is covered in gold leaf and has some symbolic meaning. There is one hidden door there that has an angel on it for protection.
Inside the monastery they have a huge library which is pretty cool. No one is allowed in, but they have a museum with several of the manuscripts displayed. We saw 30 pages of the oldest manuscript of Mark, and the contract that handed the island of Patmos over to the man that explored it and found the Grotto.
One more thing, the sea between Patmos and another island is named after the son in the myth where the man and his son make wings, but the son flies too high and falls into the sea. Apparently, this is the sea where he fell.
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