I John, your brother who share with you in Jesus the persecution and the kingdom and the patient endurance was on the island called Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. I was in the spirit on the Lord's Day and I heard behind me a loud voice, like a trumpet saying "Write in a book what you see and send it to the seen churches." Revelation of Saint John 1:9-11Patmos is a barbell shaped island close to the shore of T urkey and about two hours on a flying dolphin (hydrofoil) from the closest major island, Samos. The island is sparkly populated and is fairly hilly but no large mountains such as its neighbor Samos. However, as the quote implies events that transpired on the island in the first century had a profound effect on the endings of one of the most read books in history.
Saint John the Devine (a.k.a the Theologian) was banished from Ephesus to Patmos for preaching about Jesus. Patmos was apparently the "dumping" ground form Ephesus and there was a fair population of Christians and here Saint John continued his work of teaching about Jesus. He did most of this work from a northeastern facing cave. Most likely, the cave was a holy place, even in the time of the Pagan gods but I feel he was also there because of another reason. That is because the island is hot, arid and it was most likely the one cool spot on the entire island. And being a sensible man, Saint John did what most Mediterranean's do during the afternoon sun, take a nap.
Saint John had a vision during this time. It was a vision of God and being a vision, there was a lot of imagery and symbolism, which is the first thing I noticed when I read the book of Revelation. There vision was partially a warning, partially a prediction. The first part of the vision, there were seven touches, with seven angels holding seven churches, the seven churches of the early Christians. For each of these churches, God had a message. The messages where instructions to the extent of this is what you doing wrong. The basic message was the churches were deviating from the path and better right themselves before to long.
The second part of the vision is better known. The apocalypse. The end of the world, at least as we know it. (Sorry couldn't resist the REM reference). Some scholars feel that he was predicting what would happen if the churches didn't right themselves. Some feel that he was predicting (quite accurately) the fall of the (western) Roman Empire. Others feel that he is predicting a battle between good and evil that is yet to come, that life is in preparation for his battle and when it comes, all hell brakes lose
Pilgrims for centuries (19 to be exact) have come to Patmos to see the cave. In the middle ages, St. John Christendom asked the Byzantine Emperor to give him a land grant, the island of Patmos, to found a monastery dedicated to St. John the divine. The Emperor granted him the island, and some protection and blessed the project. A sanctuary was built around the cave (over a preexisting structure?) and the monastery was built high atop a hill overlooking the harbor and with view of the sea in all directions. Cretan slaves build the citadel, which looks more like a fortress than a monastery. The slaves worked six days a week and were only permitted to make the long (2+ miles) trekked to their families on the neighboring hill. The houses of the Hora (capital) around the capital were built as a labyrinth, much like the other Cyclades. To confuse invaders and give the inhabitants time to run and hide in the monastery. Though there were likely numerous invasions, it appears pirates never breached the inner sanctum since the solid gold alter screen still stands.
The Turks, remarkably, permitted the monastery to exist, where it became an important protector of Greek culture and heritage and the Monastery still functions as a monastery today. The monks have been the traditional protectors of the island. First against pirates, and now the tourist industry. Pilgrims are welcome, however they forbid the mass tourism that has destroyed neighboring Kos. They only allow small hotels to operate and forbid the tacky tourist shops that are all over.
There are three main sections to the gallery. The Hora, the monastery and capital city. The Cave of St. John is the structure built around the cave and the Sakla is the traditional, now trendy little harbor. The island is quite a nice island and well worth a visit. Comments to .
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