Holy Monastery of Holy Trinity
QUESTIONS & ANSWERS:
1) What is the historical evolution of the Holy Trinity Monastery?
The surface of the rock where the monastery is built, is about 6000m2 in extent. There are not concrete elements about its founder. According to historical sources it must have been built between 1458 and 1476. We don’t know yet if the information according to which the monk Dometius is the first founder in 1438, is true. We have no information about this monk. It is possible that the first hermits built here constructions to live as it happened on other rocks of the Meteora at the beginning of the 14th century.
2) How could someone have access to the peak of the rock during the first years of the existence of the monastery? How was the monastery reached in the following years and why nowadays are there steps?
In the old days monks and pilgrims reached the monastery with the help of a rope-ladder and the traditional net. In 1925, when Nicandros Stathopoulos was the abbot of the monastery, 140 steps were hewed on the rock and they lead the visitors to the monastery after they have passed a narrow path at the bottom of the rock. Nowadays, there is also a funicular for carrying products and materials.
3) How many monks lived in the Holy Trinity Monastery in the old days and how many nowadays?
In the old days, as the Holy Trinity Monastery was the centre of the monastic community, it had the most monks. These days 7-8 monks (15 in the cells and in the monastery dependency) lived here. Today only 4 monks live in it. Its abbot is the archimandrite Chrysostom Tetsios.
4) What are the architectural features of the katholikon of the Holy Trinity Monastery?
On the north-western side of the rock the katholikon is situated and it is honoured to the Holy Trinity. It belongs to the oldest building phase of the monastery and it is its most interesting building. It must have been erected in 1475/76. It is a small church in Byzantine type, cruciform two-column with a low dome. It consists of the sanctuary, the nave and the narthex. There are a few windows and that’s why the church is almost dark. In the nave, that is little in extent, there is a gilded iconostasis where there is an icon of Christ (on the right side of the gate of the sanctuary -1662) and an icon of the Virgin (1718). The narthex was built later in the nave, probably in 1689. In 1684 next to the sanctuary a small sacristy was added.
5) Who decorated with frescoes the katholikon of the monastery and when?
The first time that the church was decorated was after it had been built, in 1475/76. The painter was John from Thebes. But as time ran on the frescoes blackened. According to an inscription the present decoration with frescoes was made by priest Antony and his brother Nicholas, in 1741, when Parthenius was the monastery abbot. Among the frescoes, the Christ Pantocrator and the four Evangelists are dominant. The spacious narthex was painted in 1692 when Ionas was the abbot of the monastery.
6) Are there other significant buildings in the Holy Trinity Monastery?
There is also a refectory, reception halls and tanks. All of them are renovated and neat. The chapel of St. John the Baptist is a very interesting building. It is a small circular church with a vault, hewed on the rock. It was built and decorated in 1682. It is possible that this place was a hermitage in older times, before its changing into church.
7. Are there any manuscripts in the holy monastery? What is the role of the monastery in production and preservation of manuscripts?
The monks of the monastery copied manuscripts from other books. The content of the manuscripts was not only religious, but also mathematics, physics etc. Today, more than 120 manuscripts belong to it. Since 1953, they are kept in the St. Stephen monastery, because the monastery of Holy Trinity was closed for 50 years. The manuscripts haven’t been returned to the monastery, because there are not enough monks and the preservation of the manuscripts presents great difficulties.
8. What losses did the monastery have in relics and where can we attribute them?
A) The scholar and energetic bishop of Stagoi Paishios (1784-1808) from Klinos had a remarkable library with rare books, which he had donated to the Holy Trinity monastery. Unfortunately, this library does not exist today. It was probably lost during the World War II.
B) Moreover, the sacristy of the monastery included valuable relics, such as crosses, sacerdotal vestments, old codices, manuscripts, small hanging oil-lamps, communion cups and other sacred vessels. Unfortunately, it was looted during the German occupation by unknown sacrilegists who stole even the monastery bell.
C) Finally, the interesting old carved-wooden iconostasis of the nave was stolen by a gang of sacrilegists in 1979 and it has been replaced with a newer one. The only thing that remained is a cross at the top of the iconostasis. Old icons of the iconostasis, remarkable for their art, were also stolen.
9. What relics have finally been preserved and where are they today?
26 old icons and more than 120 manuscripts have hardly been preserved. As we have already mentioned, these manuscripts are in the St. Stephen monastery for safety reasons. Here, there are the icons of Holy Trinity and of Christ dressed in a local costume. On the icon-stand of the church, there is an old copy of the Gospel with silver cover printed in Venice in 1539.