St. Anargyroi

THE ST. ANARGYROI MONASTARY

The Monastery of Saints Anargyroi is located about ten kilometers from Vassara and five kilometers from Verroia. It is situated in a magical environment in the middle of a dense forest made up of thousands of acres of pine, fir and spruce trees.

 The Monastery was built in the year of 1611, although it is believed that a church of St. Anargyroi existed at that location the year1291.

Throughout the centuries, the monastery suffered much destruction, tribulation and raids because of the ethnic and religious activities that was unacceptable by the various conquerors. In spite of all this, the monastery managed, with the blessings of the saints and the generous support of the faithful, to overcome all obstacles and difficulties and continued its Christian charity and pious work pleasing to God.

The beloved and well-known abbot, Nikodimos Groumbos (1900-1964), who lived the monastic life most of his life, was able to give spiritual and social prestige to this historical monastery. This confident, fearless and gallant defender and protector of the faith, who lived through all the hardships and adversities of the war and occupation, was able with his own personal hard work, to restore the ruins of the monastery in its entirety. He erected the bell tower of the church, built the chapel of the ‘Saints of the Apostles’. He also built a new church, ‘The Ascension”, that majestically is located at the peak of the mountain, Stamatira, from which one can view the entire state of Laconia all the way to the sea, at the gulf of Gythion. Upon his death, the monastery, no longer housing any monks, was used by the Metropolis of Sparta as camp ground until the year 1991.

Thanks to his Eminence, Metropolitan Efstathios, the monastery, one again opened. He encouraged men who sought the monastic life, to take over the monastery. A group of young monks gathered under the guidance and leadership of Abbot and Dean Pomfilos. Abbot Pamfilos, truly a rare person, (perhaps selected by the saints themselves,) was put in charge, to continue the historical church’s mission. When meeting this man, one cannot help being impressed with his simplicity, his humility, his untiring work ethic, and his knowledge. He is greatly admired and respected by all. Vassarns are overwhelmed with joy and pride to have him and his brothers-in-Christ at their beloved monsastery and to witness the continuous progress they offer in all sectors.

In addition to the spiritual and cultural rebirth and development that has taken place, the physical reconstruction of the grounds continues. The east wing of the monastery was restored to the original Byzantine stone buildings. Also, structures, such as the ‘Chapel of St. Anna’, guest quarters, and the library were rebuilt including an imposing fortress-like tower.

Major renovations have been made to the remaining three wings. New functional areas were created; areas such as a dining room, a chapel of the All-Holy Virgin, and a chapel in honor of St. Catherine. Next to the monastery, an area where the threshing of wheat was done, a Chair of St. John of Klimakos was erected as well as a chapel dedicated to ‘St. John the Baptist’, and near the cemetery, is the Baptistry of St. Nektarios. These are a few of the works recently completed. There are many others.

To visit The Holy Monastery of Saints Anargyroi is truly an uplifting and spiritual experience.

THE  LIFE OF FATHER NIKODIMOS GROUMBOS

The late Fr. Nikodimos was born in Vassara the year 1901. His parents were John Groumbos, known by his nick name “Skaltsas”from the village of Hrysafa and Panagiota Varsamis. His parents were very poor. His mother died when he was four or five years old and his poor father could not provide the necessary for his only son, Nikodimos.
  
His uncle, Michael Varsamis, his mother’s brother, very poor himself, resumed the care of the young Nikodimos. He assisted him and shared the little bread and vegetables with him so they both could survived though the difficult those days.

He started going to school in Vassara, but a year later and the age of eight years old, he left school, because the hunger and the poverty were unbearable. He went from village to village seeking  a better life, doing all kinds of work. He worked as a servant in various near by villages and as an errant boy in several monasteries in the area.

In 1919, he volunteered and join the Greek Army and fought in the Asia expedition against the Turks till 1922.Soon after, his army service, he joined the Monastic life by becoming a Monk and not to long later he was ordained as Deacon, then as a priest and later became an Archimandrite. He was known as Papa-Skaltsas. In 1935 he was appointed Abbot of the Monastery St. Anargyroi. He served the Monastery with faith for thirty years. From 1943 till 1964 he was there all by himself. During those years of his monastic life, he rose to be an admired and spiritual father, which many high clerical personalities would dream to be. During the difficult years of World War II and the civil war that followed, he was steadfast like a Rock, unshakable and beacon of faith and always ready to offer in abundance his spiritual and materialistic help to every one.

In 1946, during the civil war, he was forced by Government Authorities to leave the Monastery and upon his return in 1950 he founded nothing but dilapidated buildings.

His inexhaustible faith and love for the Monastery gave father Skaltsas new energy. First he asked all the Christians in the area to help him with any way possible to restore the Monastery. They all cheerfully offered what little had been left from the looting that went on during the civil war. Father Skaltsas with a sack over his shoulder went all over the State and the neighboring states by foot, from village to village, from door to door and asked for help. His fame was instant.  People from everywhere offered their assistance. Money was coming over from foreign countries for this cause. Father Skaltsas, overwhelmed with people’s response, oversees himself the restoration and works along with the workers. The chapel of  St. Apostoloi was restored and for the Iconography of the chapel he managed to have the famous Iconographer on those years  Mr. Kontoglou. He also rebuilt the crumbled walls of the church of Ascension on the peak of the Stamatera mountain and dedicated it in memory of St Cosma of Aitulou, whose name is celebrated on the 24th of August

Because his unconditional love for the Monastery and the unlimited trust he had gained from all the faithful the Monastery survived. He collected large amounts of money and all was appropriated for the cause. Not a single penny for himself.

He always walked with a sack on his shoulder, but every night he was at the Monastery alone. His only companion were the Saints Anargyroi: Kosmas and Damianos.

When he died, his estate consisted of 2-3 old vestments, 5-6 bed sheets and few books.
About a year before he died he had said: “ My mission has been accomplished and made the following Prophesies:

“After me the Monastery will close down, but God is Great and will provide. After many years, when the Monastery would need help again, others from far will show up and give new life to this Monastery”.

He died during the Liturgy as if it was his rewarding from the Lord for all his good God-loving works. We hope and pray, God may guide and enlighten his successors to continue his works. One could only think: “How much better and happier our lives could be, if they could only follow the example and advices of the Holy Man Pappa-Skaltsas”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

ΕΙΣ ΜΝΗΜΗΝ
ΠΑΤΡΟΣ ΝΙΚΟΔΗΜΟΥ

Καλότυχε Νικόδημε που ταπεινά αφήκες
Του κάμπου όλα τα καλά και στο βουνό ευρήκες
Την υσυχία στη ζωή, το δρόμο προς τα ύψη
Την ανθρωπιά στα έλατα, στην όμορφη τη φύση.

Μακριά απ`του κόσμου τη βοή, ευρήκες τη γαλήνη
Και στις πανσέληνες βραδειές κροκάτη η σελήνη
Σούστελνε όνειρα γλυκά, λόγια του Παραδείσου
Και Άγγελοι ψιθυριστά σου έλεγαν κοιμήσου.

Δεν μίσησες και άφησες το πνεύμα του ανθρώπου
Αλλά την ύλη τη φθαρτή, την πρόσκαιρη του τόπου
Προτίμησες λίγα φτωχά, θαμπά, λαδιού κανδήλια
Παρά της νειότης τα χρυσά και αργυρά στολίδια.

Έφυγες απ’τον κόσμο αυτό, κι`όλα ζητούν εσένα
Περιμένουν όλα σιωπηλά και μένουν λυπημένα
Σήμερα όσοι σε ήξεραν όλοι για σε μιλάνε
Και ο΄σοι δε σε γνώρισαν, όλοι για σε ρωτάνε.

Ο τάφος σου μοσχοβολά απ` το αγνό κεράκι
Και σ’όλα μέσα στην αυλή σκορπάει τ`αεράκι
Του ύπνου σου τα όνειρα, τη ζωντανή μορφή σου
Και στη σιωπή, την άγια κι`ολόλευκη ψυχή σου.

 

 

On the left the church of “Analipsi” on the top of the Stamatira mountain, which father Nikodimos rebuilded , and on the right some parishioners relaxing after they had clime the hill from the Monasteri site.