Wednesday, 19 December 2007

Tales of Papa Gavriel Papagregorakis #1

Gavriel Papagregorakis
(Photograph in Azogires Monastery Museum. For access to the Museum, enquire at the Alpha Kafenion.)

The monastery at Azogires was a monastery before the Holy Fathers came; it’s shown in old icons but no one knows how old it is.

There is another cave there somewhere with the treasures of the monastery; that’s where the Holy Fathers first came. In the cave is said to be the soul of Gavriel Papagregorakis, the watchman of the monastery, the priest who is said to be still guarding the monastery and Azogires.

He has many stories told about him; he was a very powerful man but no one knows where his power came from.

He was a short stocky man with a big bushy beard and he lived from 1838 to 1929.

He was a priest who had been involved in one of the wars against the Turks and was shot in the wrong place and therefore he couldn’t have children.

He eventually became the head of the monastery, which at that time had both monks and nuns.

He had nothing; he was a workingman all his life, working day and night, living on olives and bread. In the end he bought one third of Azogires and when he died he left it all to what is called the Church Committee formed of 5 people.

The Goat

He had a flourmill here; a second mill below (the monastery?); another by the bridge; an olive oil factory and a kafenion. They all worked from the same small water source; he was the Leonardo De Vinci of Azogires.

He was also a merchant and he had another kafenion by Agios Georgos. He was once sitting in this kafenion looking at some pine trees he had planted that stretched from there up to the monastery when a goat came along and started eating his pine trees. He started shouting at the goat and he said “Damn you goat!’ and the goat started rolling down the hill.

The villagers went to eat the goat but Papa Gavriel said, “Don’t bother, it’s cursed.”

They sliced open the goat and smoke started coming out of it.

Wednesday, 5 December 2007

The Cave of John the Hermit

The cave of St John the Hermit

It’s said that when St John the Hermit arrived in Azogires, around 1300CE, he stayed in a cave up by the Alpha Hotel known as St John’s Cave or the Holy Cave. The cave is believed to have been used for human habitation for several thousand years.
It is still used as a place of worship and during the Second World War, it was used as a hiding place for weapons for the partisans.

Sunday, 2 December 2007

The Holy Father's Burial

Shrine of the Holy Father's in the Holy Father's Cave

The Holy Father's burial

The Holy fathers went to the village of Sambronas and cured the sick people there. In return the villagers promised that they would bury the Fathers when they died. But when that happened, the villagers didn’t come and from that time until recently, the village of Sambronas didn’t have its own graveyard. The ground wouldn’t accept them and they had to be buried outside of their village because they hadn’t buried the 98 Holy Fathers.

The death of Saint John and the cave of the Holy Fathers.

When St John the Hermit left Azogires he went to Gouvernetou on the north of the island stopping at different places on the way and many churches were built in his honour. He was now an old man preaching that god doesn’t need money, just love and respect and if you want to do something good for God you should do something good for mankind – not a lot of people liked what he preached.

According to legend he was wearing a sheepskin jacket one night when he crawled into a garden to get some vegetables to eat. A hunter saw him and thought he was a sheep in his garden and shot him with his bow and arrow. He followed the trail of blood into a cave, where they celebrate St John on October 8 each year, when he saw a large bright light in the cave. He realised what he had done and he went in and asked for the holy man’s forgiveness.

The holy man said,“ I forgive you but you must go to Azogires and find my holy brothers; tell them I am dying and it’s their time to die also. But go now because when the light goes out you might hurt yourself leaving this cave.”

The hunter got out and went to Azogires on his horse; it took him a day and a half. But, according to tradition, by the time he got to Azogires, the Holy Fathers were all dead. They are supposed to be still in their cave, sat in a circle with their sticks and their possessions.

The cave itself is about a 45 minute walk from the Alpha Kafenion, up in the hills towards Spaniakos (ask Lucky for directions). The rear part of the cave was closed in the 1920’s by the priest and by an earthquake but, if you are careful, you can still climb down the iron ladder into the front portion. The cave is supposed to come out in Kadros, on the other side of the mountain from its entrance, 1 1/2 kilometres underground; the water in the cave is said to be able to cure illness and it's believed by some that there are 99 pigeons living there.

A properly surveyed map of the cave is hanging on the wall in the Alpha Kafenion.

(According to one person, the Holy Fathers brought with them from Egypt either the Holy Grail or the Ark of the Covenant and that’s where they got their powers. Nobody knows what it is, but it’s supposed to be something powerful from the Jewish nation and it’s supposed to account for many of the strange and bizarre things that have happened in the village.)

Saturday, 1 December 2007


Acording to local legend, in the cave you see above there once lived a dragon who loved human meat. It's said that his favourite meal was unsuspecting children crossing the path below. Up to this day we don't know what this creature was or when it lived but one thing we do know is that the locals are still scared of the area today.
So, when you visit Azogires, it's worth a trip to Dragon's cave; the view is astonishing.