Άγιο σπήλαιο Holy Cave of Agios Dionysios
Enipeas gorge, Mt Olympus.
|Guided tours:||self guided|
|Address:||Cave of Agios Dionysios, Tel: +30-, Fax: +30-,|
|As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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|1943||monastery destroyed by the Germans.|
Σπήλαιο Αγίου Διονυσίου (Cave of Agios Dionysios) is located in the Enipeas gorge on Mount Olympus, only 800m downstream from the monastery Αγίου Διονυσίου εν Ολύμπω (Agios Dionysios in Olympus). The monastery is accessible by a paved road, which actually leads from Litochoro to the foot of Mt. Olympus. At the end of the road is the mountain lodge Καταφύγιο Πριόνια (Prionia Shelter), which is the starting point for ascending Mt. Olympus. The turnoff to the monastery is only 2km before the end of the road. From the parking lot atthe monastery its about a twenty minute walk to the chapel of Saint Dionysios.
The small chapel was built under an overhanging rock just above a spring. The chapel consists of a small devotional space where the saint celebrated the sacred liturgy during his time as a hermit and a small shed which served as him as a place to sleep. Some think his well has healing powers. He was the founder of the nearby monastery and his right hand is venerated there as a relic.
Dionysios was born in the last years of the 15th century in the village of Slatina in Thessaly. Some time after their death he went to the Monastery of the Transfiguration at Meteora. After some time as a monk he heard about the hesychast life, ascesis and prayer of the monks of Athos. He went to Karyes, the capital of the Athonite community. But when he asked to be received into the brotherhood, he was sent back until he reached the the required age. Finally he was accepted and soon he was ordained deacon and then priest. But he left the Monastery of Karakallou to live as a hermit nearby. The many chestnut trees which grew there enabled him to live free from care about food.
Then he made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. He stopped at Iconium for some time, where the ageing Metropolitan wanted him to be his successor. But he went to the holy places and returned to Mount Athos.
He started to enlarge a small chapel all by himself. Many visitors came to receive his blessing. A brigand observed this and decided to waylay and murder Dionysios. But his eyes were darkened so that he did not see Dionysios. He went to his cell intending to ransack it thoroughly. But there, he met Dionysios, fell at his feet in tears, confessed his evil intention and eventually became a monk.
After seven years, the monks of Philotheou asked him to become their Abbot. He accepted and soon the monastery flourished. But some Bulgarian monks, resentful at losing their influence in the Monastery, plotted to kill him. He was warned and fled with some of the community to the Skete of Beroea. There he rebuilt the Church of Saint John the Forerunner, and reorganized the monastery according to the tradition of the Holy Mountain. But after some time the bishop's throne of Beroea became vacant, and the people asked him to become their new bishop. So he fled to a secluded abode at the foot of Mount Olympus.
He lived there for a while as a hermit, and was joined by disciples and began the construction of a Monastery dedicated to the Holy Trinity. The Turkish governor of the district, angered by this unauthorized foundation, decided to arrest the Saint and his community. Dionysios was warned and fled with his disciples to Mount Pilion, where he founded the Monastery of the Holy Trinity of Sourvia. But God's wrath descended on Olympus, and the villages suffered cruelly from gales and then from hail. The country folk went to the governor and persuaded him to recall Dionysios and his disciples. He granted them leave and the license to build their church and monastery. Dionysios returned to Olympus and lived in a cave, which he called the Cave of Golgotha. He and his brethren adopted a threefold pattern of life: silent seclusion, building work, and care of the poor and teaching of the people.
One day he realized that the time of his departure from this world had come. He gathered some of his disciples in the cave where he had been living, and exhorted them to persevere with faith in their way of life according to the tradition of the Holy Mountain. He died on 23 January 1541, while making his prayer for them to the Lord.