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near Anglisídes, Eparchía Lárnakas (Cyprus)
Stavrovouni Monastery (Greek: Ιερά Μονή Σταυροβουνίου) is a Greek Orthodox monastery which stands on the top of a hill called Stavrovouni (Greek: Σταυροβούνι) in Cyprus; it is sometimes simply known as Stavrovouni. The monastery is one of the few places where one can see a piece of the Holy Cross. Stavrovouni Monastery was founded by Saint Helena (Saint Constantine's mother) in around 327–329 AD and therefore it is one of the oldest monasteries in the world.
4.1 Recent history
4.2 Most recent Abbots
4.3 Known monks
6 See also
8 External links
The monastery is located on the peak of the mountain of the same name (Stavrovouni) in the District of Larnaca. The mountain in earlier times had been known under the name of Olympus, but nowadays the highest point of the Troodos Mountains further to the west bears that name. Stavrovouni, as the name already indicates, is dedicated to the Holy Cross; it can be derived from two words 'stavros' (Greek: Σταυρός) for cross and 'vouno' (βουνό) for mountain, so that it basically means "the mountain of the Cross".
Main article: Feast of the Cross
According to religious tradition, the monastery was founded by St. Helena, the mother of the Byzantine Emperor Constantine I, the Great. According to the 15th century Cypriot chronicler Leontios Makhairas, after the end of the First Ecumenical Synod in Nicaea (325), Helena went on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land when she discovered the three crosses on which Jesus and the two thieves had been crucified. She had them excavated and wanted to bring them to Constantinople, but she is said to have left one of these crosses in Cyprus during an involuntary visit caused by shipwreck. Religious history says that the Holy Cross was transferred by a miracle to the peak of a high hill overnight and that a strong light was coming out of that peak. After several unsuccessful attempts to get the Holy Cross out of that mountain, Helena decided to leave a piece there, and built a small chapel to accompany it.
Stavrovouni is therefore considered to be one of the oldest monasteries in the world; other ancient monasteries are: Saint Athanasius (344), Saint Anthony (356), Saint Macarius (360), Saint Gabriel (Mor Gabriel) (397), Saint Euthymius (460), Saint Sabbas (Mar Saba) (483) and Saint Catherine, Sinai (565).
The most important relic of Stavrovouni Monastery: The Holy Cross
Main article: True Cross
The most significant relic that Stavrovouni Monastery possesses is a piece of the Holy Cross, left at the monastery by Saint Helena. There are references from several sources which report that the Holy Cross used to stand unsupported in the air. Nowadays, the remaining piece of the Cross is kept within a large silver cross. Other relics left at the monastery by Helena include the Cross of the Good Thief, a nail, and, according to some sayings, a part of the rope that had bound Jesus to the Cross.
In addition, visitors will find two small chains which were worn by Saint Panaretos, Bishop of Paphos, during his life, and which were in direct contact with his body.
Stavrovouni is the earliest documented monastery on the island. The oldest written reference dates from the Byzantine period, and it proves that Stavrovouni had been an important religious centre since the 4th century. The relevant information can be found in the memoirs of a Russian traveler, Abbot Daniel, who stayed on Cyprus in 1106. He recorded that the Holy Cross was located on Mount Olympus with the objective of "warding off evil spirits and curing any illness", and he noted, "This cross is like a meteorite, it is not supported in the ground, because the Holy Ghost holds it in the empty space. I, unworthy man, knelt down before this holy, mysterious object and have seen with my own, sinful eyes the inherent holy grace present in this place."
After its foundation, Stavrovouni was occupied by Orthodox monks living according to the rule of St. Basil. We obtain further historical information from Western visitors to Cyprus in the 13th century. Willibrandi de Oldenburg, for example, visited Stavrovouni in 1211 and wrote, "The cross of the Good Thief is on the highest mountain in Cyprus" – which was incorrect, as Stavrovouni is not as high as the Troodos peak. Ludolph von Suchen noted in 1305, "The mountain is like the Mount Tabor on which the Benedictine monks live. From its peak one can see the Lebanon." This is true, but the weather must be very clear in order to verify this.
In its long history, Stavrovouni went through times of great poverty and hardship caused by the numerous invasions by foreigners on the island. Nowadays, the Holy Cross is no longer there and nobody knows what has happened to it. In 1598, the Bohemian nobleman Krystof Harant noted, "Nobody knows what the Turks have done with the Holy Cross." The walls, the church, the iconostasis, and the monks' cells in Stavrovouni were almost completely destroyed during a great fire in 1888. The only relic which has been preserved down to the present is a silver cross in which a minute piece of the Holy Cross is inserted, the only major reliquary which is still kept in Stavrovouni.