In Greek, “Skiathos”, according to tradition, means “sti skia tou Athona” (at the shade of Mount Athos). The spiritual symbol of the island is the Monastery of Theotokos Evangelistria (of the Annunciation), that is built on the highest top of Skiathos and it is situated near the port.
It is a men’s monastery and it was inaccessible for women some decades ago.
From the middle of the 18th century to the beginning of the 19th century, a religious dispute was taking place in Mount Athos, named “the Kollyvades movement”. It had to do with whether memorial servicescould move to Sunday instead of Saturday, as was the rule until that time, according to tradition. The supporters of tradition were called “Kollyvades”. Except from the Dean of Athonias School Neophytos of Kafsokalyvia, the priest-monk Saint Athanasios Parios, the Archbishop of Korinthos Saint Makarios Notaras and Saint Nicodemosthe Hagiorite, one of the Saints who were leaders of this movement was the priest-monk Saint Nephon from Chios.
Because of this dispute, Saint Nephon came to Skiathos in 1794 and became the first Abbot of the Monastery. The Monastery was being constructed from 1794 to 1806 and was the bulwark of “Kolivades” during the dispute and later.
The prose writer, Alexandros Papadiamantis who was from Skiathos, the literature writer Alexandros Moraitidis and the high scholar Epiphanios Dimitriadis were offsprings of the spirit of “Kolivades”. That was the reason why Skiathos was named “the island of Saints”.
Skiathos offered a lot to the Greek war of Independence in 1821. It was a supply center, a center of attraction and a place where klephts and armatoli (the members of armed illegal teams during Turkish occupation who were trying to fight the Turks) of Thessaly and other places could ensconce themselves.
The Catholicon is like the ones found in Mount Athos. The Monastery was constructed in order to cover the needs of a large number of monks. In the Monastery, there is a very important Library, a folklore and ecclesiastical museum, where holy vessels and icons are kept. In the Catholicon of the Monastery, there are the holy relics of the Saints Paraskevi,Panteleimon, Charalambos, Dionysiosthe Areopagite, John Chrysostom,Great Athanasius, Efthymios, Constantinosof Hydra, Polycarpos of Smyrna, TheodorosStratelates, Nephon of Constantinople, Theoctiste, Tryphon and also the holy relics of a lot of other Saints.
Finally, the great “Alipiakos” wine is produced and bottled in the Monastery, for which Alexandros Papadiamantis says that “it is proper for the soothing of the grief, the sorrows and the sufferings of this world”.
Nikotsaras, one of the most important leaders of the klephts from Thessaly, had resorted to the Annunciation Monastery in 1807. Together with the other famous captain Giannis Stathas and the pirate navy, they often used Skiathos as a hideout.
In cooperation with the Sacred Abbot Nephon, Nikotsaras and Stathas drew, weaved and raised the first blue and white Greek flag, as we know it today, blue and white with a white cross. The flag was blessed in September 1807 and Theodoros Kolokotronis was also present there.