Birth of the Theotokos Monastery (Pelagia)
The Orthodox tradition includes two kinds of Christian life: the life in the world and the life of withdrawal from the world. Salvation is the common aim of both ways of life.
Two basic institutions have therefore taken shape in the course of the Church’s history: the parish and the monastery.
In reality they are not contradictory but complementary.
The local parishes are the yeast of ecclesiastical life, and their purpose is to ‘leaven’ the lump of human society as a whole; and the monasteries are revealed as the bright beacons that aim to observe strictly the call of the Gospel in its absolute form, and to spread the consoling light of hope in the darkness of the world.
Today when secularisation is continuously gaining ground, Orthodox monasteries are the bastions of spiritual resistance and life.
In a period of unrestrained materialism, when people are in danger of losing their bearings, the monasteries insist with sacred obstinacy on preserving the true way of life with unceasing prayer and discerning support and consolation of those who suffer.
Visiting the holy monasteries, even as a tourist without any sense of pilgrimage, brings visitors into contact with the ancient monastic tradition, and spiritually awakens consciences.
In recent decades in our local Church we have witnessed a true renaissance and blossoming of monasticism.
Old and historic monasteries that were in an abandoned state and were preserved purely and simply as ‘beautiful ruins’, as the poet says, have been repopulated and revived.
One of the golden tesserae in the mosaic of the monastic revival in Viotia is surely the Birth of the Theotokos Monastery, also called Pelagia Monastery, near Akrefnio.
Having stayed courageously and self-sacrificingly for nineteen years vigilantly guarding and conserving the sacred place, the ever-memorable Gerondissa Macrina Tsiropoula from Levadia handed it over in 1987 to a new sisterhood under the ever-memorable Abbess Photini Demou, a dynamic Gerondissa, who unfortunately abandoned us prematurely for the heavenly mansions.
This lively new sisterhood has the blessing of being under the spiritual guidance of a wise and discerning spiritual father, His Eminence Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and St Vlassios, who is known and honoured for his theological wisdom and his wealth of publications.
Apart from the particular involvement of the sisters of the Monastery in gold-thread embroidery, ecclesiastical adornment, and other forms of service, we should mention especially their serious publishing activity. This continues a centuries-old monastic tradition of manuscript and printed publications, which has contributed greatly to worldwide spiritual culture.
We warmly welcome and bless this publication, and we paternally wish the dear sisterhood and wise Gerondissa Silouani strength and assistance in their spiritual ascents, aimed solely at the Kingdom of God. We pray that all the readers who leaf through this pilgrimage guide may be given the opportunity to discover this spiritual oasis in the desert of the secularisation that surrounds us.
Metropolitan George of Thiva and Levadia
from the Preface of the book