On August 1, the Greek Orthodox Church celebrates the Feast Day of Agia Elessa of Kythira.
Elessa was born in the Peloponnese to a wealthy pagan father and devout Christian mother and she converted to her mother’s religion. After her mother died her father wanted her to marry a pagan ruler, so Elessa fled to Kythira in order to dedicate her life to God and to helping the poor.
Sadly her father followed and found her, and Elessa was tortured and eventually murdered on the spot where the monastery was built in 1871. Agia Elessa has become the island’s Patron Saint and is known as the protector of Kytherians.
Many pilgrims stay in the monastery during Dekapentismou, the period of 15 days towards August 15th, tis Panagias.
The Agia Elessa Monastery is located in the southwestern part of Kythira, on one of the island’s highest hills.
The morning service on August 1st is led by Kythira’s bishop. After the service (around 10 am), there will be a procession through the monastery grounds.
If you visit the monastery on 1st August you will enjoy a real taste of Kytherian culture as there is local delicacies, dancing, and music at the Panygiri, which takes place today.