The monastery of Agia Eirini Chrysovalantou is located in Lykovrisi, Attica. Set in peaceful surroundings, visitors can experience the monastic lifestyle here.
Agia Eirini Chrysovalantou was the abbess of the monastery during the 9th century, where she engaged herself in vigils and prayer. She developed the gift of foresight and after her death at 102, she continued to be a miracle worker.
Many prayers for Agia Eirini’s intercessions are continually answered and she is mostly known for her miracles for mothers who are unable to conceive, with couples from all around Greece and the world coming here to pray to the miraculous icon of Agia Eirini Chrysovalantou, in order to fall pregnant.
Agia Eirini in her early life was promised to the Emperor Michael in marriage. Instead of allowing her life to go in that direction, she decided to serve the Lord instead. She had many spiritual gifts and performed many good works for Christ.
Originally born in Cappadocia, her family was wealthy and aristocratic and this is how she came to be engaged to the emperor. Irene’s sister married Vardas, the brother of the Empress Theodora, who brought icons back into the Orthodox Christian Church.
On a journey to Constantinople, Eirini asked to speak to a recluse named Ioannikos. He had a vision that foresaw how important Irene would be to the church. He said, “Welcome Eirini, Servant of God. Proceed to the Imperial City in joy because the convent of Chrysovalantou needs you in the community.” Eirini ultimately decided to heed this vision and she devoted her life to the monastery.
People who wish to be given a blessing from Agia Eirini are offered a piece of apple, as it is said that one night Agia Eirini heard a voice telling her to welcome a sailor who would bring fruit to her that day. Nuns found the sailor outside the gate and brought him to the Abbess.
He told her he was from the Island of Patmos (where according to legend John the Evangelist had lived in a cave). He and his shipmates were sailing past the far end of the island when they heard an old man shouting for them to stop. But the coast was rocky, so the sailors made to continue on. But the old man — who was John the Apostle and Evangelist — shouted again, and the ship stopped still in the water. The old fellow walked across the waves to the ship and took three apples out of his garments. He told the sailors the apples were from Paradise, and that they were to give them to the Patriarch Methodios. Then he took out three more very large and fragrant apples from Paradise and asked the sailors to give them to Abbess Irene at the Chrysovalantou Monastery. Then John disappeared and the ship moved forward in the water again.
Agia Eirini ate a piece of one of the apples every day for forty days, and no other food or water. And when she ate a piece, her mouth became so fragrant that all the nuns in the monastery could smell it. She gave the second apple to the nuns for them to divide and eat, and they too became fragrant and very happy. The third apple she kept uneaten until finally she consumed it shortly before her death.
That accounts for the three apples seen in icons of Irene and that is why women are given a small piece of apple blessed at the monastery and told to fast for three days before they consume it.
For those who are unable to come to the monastery in Athens, many Greek Orthodox monasteries in the Diaspora are also named in honour of Agia Eirini and also offer apples that have been given a blessing.
Many couples actually choose to give their child the name or middle name Chrysovalantou for a girl and Chysovalantos for a boy, in honour of Agia Eirini, who they prayed to for conception.
Visitors are able to stay here for as long as they wish, as the monastery has many guest rooms (a separate section for men and for women) and is open all year round. During your stay, you must know that nuns here are always fasting and only offer fruits and nuts, however, guests can bring food with them when staying overnight.
The monastery opens for the faithful during winter between 8 am and 5pm and over summer from 7am and 7pm.
Visitors must dress appropriately and shorts and short skirts are forbidden.
A: 17 Lykovrisi, Athens, 14123