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Easter in Patmos : The spiritual experience

The celebration of Easter in Patmos is certainly a unique life experience.

Mainly because of the Holy Monastery of Saint John the theologian in Chora (a UNESCO world heritage site), which is a reference point for the whole Greece and Orthodox Christianity. The island is often called the «Jerusalem of the Mediterranean», due to the presence of St. John the Evangelist, who wrote the book of Revelation into the holy cave. A genuine sacred cave, flooded with saintliness, which is said to have been created by the voice of God that entered the cave causing a large crack, forming the rocky ceiling in three smaller pieces (symbolizing the Holy Trinity). The “Great Week” is celebrated in Patmos according to Byzantine tradition and pilgrims travel there from all over the world, being immersed in a deeply spiritual atmosphere.

“The Washing of the Disciples’ Feet” on Maundy Thursday is the most imposing church ceremony. It is about a representation of the Jesus (by the Bishop) washing the feet of his twelve disciples (twelve monks), before His Crucifixion. On this day, a stage as a platform is constructed in the square of the capital village Chora. In an awe-inspiring ceremony, the Abbot, after washing the feet of 12 monks, steps off the stage and heads for a sacred place to pray, reminding us of the way Jesus followed towards the Garden of Gethsemane.

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Greek Orthodox priests attend the traditional washing of the feet ceremony at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem's old city on April 21, 2011. Christians around the world are marking the Holy Week, commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, leading up to his resurrection on Easter. AFP PHOTO/GALI TIBBON

On Good Friday the reenactment of the Deposition from the Cross takes place. It is a day of mourning, while the church bells ring sparingly and national flags are at half-mast. Christ’s Entombment representation takes place in St John’s Monastery, with Jesus is taken off the cross, wrapped in a white cloth and laid on the altar. Then, the “Epitafios” procession takes place escorted by clergy and believers on a mournful march. A bier covered with flowers with the representation of the Christ’s lying body is carried throughout Chora. The believers follow the bier with brown candles lit. The bier is taken back to the church, followed by the people, and is placed in the inner chamber for forty days.

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On Easter Saturday, churches are decorated joyfully. The early resurrection service takes place in the morning, with the priest turning away the devil who tries to prevent the Resurrection. In the evening of Easter Saturday you can watch the resurrection service both in the monastery of Agios Ioannis and the convent of the Immaculate Conception just outside Chora.

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The Christendom highlight of Easter ceremonies is the “Liturgy of Love”, held on Easter Sunday at 3 in the afternoon at the Monastery of St. John. During this liturgy, which his dedicated to the Second Resurrection, the Gospel of the Resurrection is read in seven different languages such as Italian, French, Russian, Serbian, etc! When the mass ends, red eggs are offered to all those in attendance by the Abbot, symbolizing the perpetual rebirth of life and nature. This service is attended by many believers from every corner of the Earth.

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