The monastery of Strofades, this impressive castle – monastery that is a place of martyrdom, lies on the small islands that have the same name (40 miles away from Zante) and it is dedicated to the Metamorphosis of the Saviour Jesus Christ. It was founded in the 13th century by Emperor Theodoros Laskaris.
The complex has the form of a tower, meaning that it is a fortress monastery. The Catholic of the monastery, dedicated to the Metamorphosis of Christ, is located in the tower of the Monastery and this is unique for an Orthodox monastery.
In the complex, opposite the tower, there is the chapel of St. George, which served as the tomb of St. Dionysius’s body for a few years. In the 16th century, the monastery was attacked by Saracens and the monks of the monastery were slaughtered. After this disaster, in slow motions, the monastery started to regain life and a lot of monks came there again. So, in 1568, in a church of Zante, the Zakynthian count Draganinos Sigouros, the son of Mokios, was tonsured as a monk of the holy monastery of Strofades and his new name was Daniel (his name changed to Dionysius when he was ordained as an archbishop).
Later, Saint Dionysius became the Abbot of the monastery, around 1570.As an Archbishop of Aegina he took care of his monasteries, until the time when his wish, to be buried in the holy monastery of Strofades came true when he died on 17th December 1622.
After some years, the translation of his relics took place and his body was found incorrupt and intact by time in a miraculous way. The relics of St. Dionysius remained in Strofades islands (or Strofadia) until August 19th 1717, the year when the Turks attacked the island and they also captured and killed the monks. Only two monks who were hidden in the scrubby woods were saved. They took the Saint’s relics and brought them to Zante and since then, the Saint has remained in his island, as its patron and protector, giving his blessing to those who request it.
But along with the relics of the Saint, the Holy Monastery of Strofades itself was moved in the town of Zante, where it remains until today. The monastery has a significant library and sacred objects of great value. Parts of this library and the sacred vessels are in the monastery of Zante and in the Marciana Library in Venice.
The buildings of this historic monastery suffered major damage during the fierce earthquake of November 18th, 1997.
The temple, in which the body of the Saint lies today in the city of Zante, was founded in 1948 and it is the most important pilgrimage.
Saint Dionysios was born in Zante in 1547, when the island was under the conquest of the Venetians. He was lucky because although he grew up in an aristocratic environment and received great education, he was raised as a Christian, something rare for the children of his times. According to tradition, he was baptized by Saint Gerasimos while the last one lived in Zante.
In his late teens, he lost his parents and he donated all his property to his brothers, Konstantinos and Sigouras. Then he decided to become a monk at the monastery of Strofades where he took the name Daniel. During his ascetic life he devoted himself to studying the Bible and praying and soon became the abbot of the Monastery of Strofades.
In 1577 Saint Dionysius decided to go on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. During the trip he passed from Athens to get the blessing of the bishop Nikagoras, who was so impressed by his character and education that he persuaded him to take on the diocese of Aegina. So Saint Dionysius became the bishop of Aegina with the name Dionysius. He was in this position till 1579 and he did great work there.
He returned to Zante and retired into the monastery of Panagia Anafonitria at the north of the island, where he became the abbot of the monastery. During his stay there many believers visited him to confess their sins and to ask for his advice. The most striking moment of the Saint’s life in the monastery was when he gave refuge and forgiveness to the murderer of his brother and helped him leave Zante safely, setting an ultimate example of Christian love.
Saint Dionysius died on December 17th, 1622 at the age of 75 and according to his will, he was buried in Strofades, which was the first place that brought him closer to God.
When, after three years his body was exhumed, it was found intact and, because of this sign of holiness, our Church glorified him as a Saint in 1733. Of course the islanders had honoured him as a Saint long before. Today, the relics of Saint Dionysius are in a silver casket in the church which is dedicated to his holiness and was named after him.
The Saint is honoured at Zante twice a year. On August 24th they commemorate the remembrance of the transporting from Zakynthos to Strofades in 1717 and on 17th December they honour his Assumption. Each event is celebrated for three days.
The Abbot of the monastery: Dean Dionysius Liveris.
Abbot: (+30) 26950 29858
church: (+30) 26950 28683