Monastery of Pantanassa (Mangrove Mountain, New South Wales)

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Monastery of the Holy Mother of God "Pantanassa"
Jurisdiction Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia
Type Male Monastery
Founded 1976
Superior Abbot Stephanos
Approx. size 4 monks
Location Mangrove, New South Wales, Australia
Liturgical language(s) Greek
Music used Byzantine Chant
Calendar Revised Julian
Feastdays celebrated Nov 10 (Metochion)
Bright Saturday (Monastery)
Official website none advertised

The Monastery of the Holy Mother of God "Pantanassa" (Queen of All) is a monastic community for men under the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia. The monastery is located in Mangrove Creek and Mangrove Mountain, New South Wales (west of Sydney), and was established in 1976 under the omophorion of His Eminence Archbishop Stylianos of Australia. The current abbot is Archimandrite Stephanos; there are currently 2 priestmonks (including the abbot), one monk and one novice in residence.


In 1976, shortly after the beginning of Archbishop Stylianos' tenure, the Archbishop established the Holy Monastery of the Transfiguration of our Lord, with Archimandrite Stephanos (Pantanassiotis) being the abbot and residing at St Arsenios House. Fr Stephanos resigns from Vicar-General and devotes himself to the monastery, where he is widely sought out for confession; however, even though the monastery is situated in Earlwood, Sydney, it is a principle of the monastery that no weddings or baptisms are conducted.

"Holy Archdiocese of Australia
Holy Monastery Mother of God the Queen of All"

In the early 1990s, the monastery has its first novices, and Fr Stephanos decides that an inner-city hermitage was no longer the an ideal situation. Building begins at Mangrove Mountain at a temporary site on the side of the mountain, below a 200m (approx. 680ft) cliff; it was anticipated that, once the temporary site was complete, construction would begin at permanent site on top of the mountain. In 1995, the temporary site was complete, and the brotherhood moved from Sydney to Mangrove Mountain. This caused Holy Transfiguration Monastery to revert to a parish, and Archbishop Stylianos placed the brotherhood under the patronage of the Mother of God "Pantanassa" ("Queen of All: formed by two Greek words - Πάντα meaning All, Άνασσα meaning Queen)

1995 turned out to be a busy year. In the early 1990s, Fr Stephanos has a number of women who wished to pursue the monastic life; these women were, eventually, sent to a monastery in Greece. However, the desire to lead the monastic life in Australia was, after a few years, accepted by Fr Stephanos, and so these four nuns made up the first sisters of the Monastery of the Holy Cross, who began residence at St Arsenios House with Fr Stephanos as the spiritual father. In 2003, Holy Cross Monastery moves to Mangrove Mountain, 5km from Pantanassa Monastery, and St Arsenios becomes the Sydney metochion for Pantanassa Monastery.

What was planned to be a temporary site, after numerous administrative setbacks, eventually became more permanent, with an iconography studio, extra cells and storeroom built near the original complex. However, the brotherhood never forgot that it was only supposed to be temporary; finally, on May 27, 2005, having obtained local government permission, Pantanassa Monastery began excavation on the monastic site on top of the mountain, and Archbishop Stylianos announces an Australia-wide fundraising campaign. On July 16, 2005, the foundation stone of the main church ('katholikon') was laid by Archbishop Stylianos, assisted by Bishop Seraphim.

Recent events

  • 2005 Jul 16: The foundation stone of the new monastic church was laid at Pantanassa Monastery by Archbishop Stylianos, assisted by Bishop Seraphim.
  • 2005 Aug: Driveway for new monastic complex finished.
  • 2006 Feb: Construction began on first phase.
  • 2006 Apr: Around the time of Pascha, construction of the main church ('katholikon') and a part of accomodation well under way.
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Monastic Complex

After moving to become the Pantanassa Monastery in 1995, the Brotherhood built a small site to live in until they built the complex that would be the monastery. In 2005, the Brotherhood, after numerous difficulties, began excavation at this site, located 50 metres from cliff-face; in 2006, construction began.

Current Monastic Complex

Currently the Brotherhood lives, works and prays at a small monastic complex on the side of Mangrove Mountain, below a 200 metre cliff, where there is a small chapel dedicated to Sts Ephraim and Isaac the Syrians, living quarters sufficient for the monks, an iconography studio (the primary source of income), a candle-making factory, St. Joseph's joinery workshop. Other structures from the complex include a secluded cabin named after Elder Paisios the Athonite (+1994), a set of beehives, a timber cabin used for confessional and bookshop, an outdoor chapel with a 6 metre timber crucifix used during the Patriarch's 1996 visit, and a cave dedicated to St. Anna. There are also numerous dams on the property for water, the largest dam being adjacent to St. Patrick's fields.

Icon of the Mother of God "Pantanassa"

New Monastic Complex

Building works started on the new monastic complex site at the top of the mountain on 27 May 2005. The preparatory works began with excavating the mountain to provide three flat levels for buildings to go on, which were completed by the July 2005 foundation ceremony. During further excavation, a 400 metre (~1350 ft) driveway through forest to the building site was constructed and completed in August 2005. There are three stages involved in the construction of the new monastic complex:

  1. Includes the new chapel and the first section of the living quarters, sufficient for the present number of monks.
  2. Includes the remainder of the living quarters for the monks and the office.
  3. Includes the iconography studio and guest accomodation.
  • Other structures include the confessional, the library and the refectory (opp. entrance of church, adj. to main entry).

The first stage of the monastery is currently being built.

The new monastic complex is designed to have the layout and aesthetics of a traditional Athonite monastery by having the main church in the middle of a cloistered quadrangle. This formation is intended to have a fortress effect, by appearing solid and uninviting to outsiders, its few openings giving little opportunity for interaction; whereas to those welcomed into the complex, having a softer style of architecture and opening with a continuous arched cloister and details reminiscent of Athonite structures.

Bibliography and Links

Orthodoxy in Australia: Monasteries
Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia
Male: Pantanassa | St George | St John
Female: Gorgoepikoos | Holy Cross
Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia
Male: Holy Transfiguration | Archangel Michael
Proph. Elias | St John the Baptist | Holy Trinity
Female: Our Lady of Kazan | Presentation
Other Jurisdictions
Male: New Kalenic (Serbian) | St Sava (Serbian)
Female: St Anna (Antiochian) | Nativity Skete (Serbian)