Oia, on the Greek Isle of Santorini, is both an area and a village. The village is known as “the eagle’s nest” because it sits 490 feet atop the volcanic caldera formed by the Santorini Volcano “Thera”
(which erupted 3,600 years ago) and caused such a tsunami that some believe it is the source of the mythology surrounding the legends of Atlantis. Oia is also the oldest settlement in Santorini and one of two harbors. Today, there are over 70 churches in the Oia area, and I want to tell you about our visit to one of them:The Holy Chapel of St. Nektarios. This lovely chapel is part of the Roman Catholic “Prophet Elias Monastery,” which was built in 1712 and dedicated to the Prophet Elijah. The monastery was built at the top of Mount Prophet Elias
(the highest point on the island of Santorini, nearly 1900 feet), and it originally served as a fortress to protect the villages below. For the first 200 years, the monastery also served as an important source
of commerce and education, although it eventually lost most of its commercial and political influence. Today, the monks engage in meditation and in making
prints, candles, shoes, and wine. The Holy Chapel of Nektarios also hosts collections
of rare, hand-written books and Byzantine icons. Our guide took us there in time for a picnic lunch of roasted corn in their lovely courtyard, which overlooks the entire island. It was peaceful and calm, and the monks were gracious hosts. It reminded me of the Holy Transfiguration Monastery in Michigan’s U.P., where we’ve often stopped at their Jam Pot Bakery for refreshments
(like muffins and thimble berry jam…
although in Santorini we snacked on sesame-covered peanuts and fruit drinks). Also, “our” monastery in Michigan is built on the shores of Lake Superior, not on a mountain top in Greece surrounded by the Aegean Sea! I did not hear the gospel while we were visiting, but standing on the top of the mountain in this inspiring setting, I remembered these words from the scripture:
“How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!” (Isaiah 52:7).
May all who know the good news proclaim it from the mountaintops and valleys of our lives, whether we’re at home or abroad!
(All the photos were taken during our visit to Santorini while cruising a couple of weeks ago. What a gorgeous island! It has been used as the setting for numerous movies and listed among the world’s top islands by various sources, including BBC, U.S. News, and Travel + Leisure Magazine. In 2015, Condé Nast Traveler listed it as #12 out of the top 20 islands in the world. Definitely worth a visit!)