Monastery of St. John the Theologian (Patmos, Greece)

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The Holy Monastery of St. John the Theologian (Local Name: Áyios Ioánnis Theológos - the Monastery of St. John the Divine), is a fortress style monastery with a monastic community for men on Patmos, founded in 1088 AD by St. Christodoulos the Blessed, who had been granted the whole island of Patmos with a golden bull by the Emperor of Byzantium Alexis I Komninos. The monastery is under the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate; and is a Patriarchal exarchate with a Patriarchal exarch (ie. its abbot has special benefits).

Monastery Structure

The Monastery has ten chapels, four of which are located in its yard. In the Catholic of the monastery, there is a temple of unique art, created in 1829, by 12 sculptors.

  • The Chapel of the Holy Apostles
    • This is a small byzantine chapel that is just outside the main gate of the monastery.
  • The main entrance
    • This 17th century Main entrance gateway has slits for pouring oil over marauders. It leads into the cobbled main courtyard.
  • The Main courtyard
  • The monks refrectory
  • The Treasury
    • The Treasury of the monastery houses over 200 icons, 300 pieces of silverware and a dazzling collection of jewels. This impressive array of religious art and treasure mainly consists of icons of the Cretan school. Among the more respected exhibits there is an unusual mosaic icon of St. Nicholas and the 11th-century parchment granting the island to Blessed Christodoulos.
    • The library contains 15,000 books, over 1,000 manuscripts, including fragments of the famous Codex Purpureus. Nearly 1500 years old, the Codex Purpureus is one of the oldest illustrated manuscripts in the world. Its outer appearance exhibits sheer royalty, and the purple colored parchment made the manuscript famous. Only 386 pages out of the original 800, remain. The current version includes a complete Gospel of St. Matthew and a nearly complete Gospel of St. Mark. Of great interest is the portrait of St. Mark.

Image Gallery

Saints and Monastics

nb. only those with articles are listed.

World Heritage Classification, UNESCO

  • Date of Inscription - 1999
  • Reference No. 942
  • Criteria: (iii), (iv) and (vi)
    • (iii) - The town of Chorá on the island of Pátmos is one of the few settlements in Greece that have evolved uninterruptedly since the 12th century. There are few other places in the world where religious ceremonies that date back to the early Christian times are still being practised unchanged. [1]
    • (iv) - The Monastery of Hagios Ioannis Theologos (Saint John the Theologian) and the Cave of the Apocalypse on the island of Pátmos, together with the associated medieval settlement of Chorá, constitute an exceptional example of a traditional Greek Orthodox pilgrimage centre of outstanding architectural interest. [2]
    • (vi) - The Monastery of Hagios Ioannis Theologos and the Cave of the Apocalypse commemorate the site where St John the Theologian (Divine), the “Beloved Disciple”, composed two of the most sacred Christian works, his Gospel and the Apocalypse. [3] [4]
  • Documentations


  1. United Nations - Copyright © 1992-2008 UNESCO World Heritage Centre
  2. United Nations - Copyright © 1992-2008 UNESCO World Heritage Centre
  3. United Nations - Copyright © 1992-2008 UNESCO World Heritage Centre
  4. Note on Criterion (iv) - A delegate of Thailand raised the question of eligibility of criterion (vi). He thought that the criterion should be applied. This recommendation was also endorsed by ICOMOS and the Committee. Delegates and observers commended the high values of the site and decided to keep the criterion.