On the right bank of the Selenountas River, at the base of the fir-covered klokos Mountain, in a thickly wooded surrounding with much water one finds the Monastery of the Great Taxiarchs (Archangels Ss Michalis and Gabriel), the most noteworthy Monastery in Aigialeia.
The Monastery is to be found 15km. a way from Aigion, and can be reached by a road paved with asphalt, starting from Kouloura, passing Mavriki and then following the right bank of the river through a very beautiful scenery, next passing the river and finally reaching the Monastery.
Hosios Leontios, the founder of the Monastery was born in Monemvasia in 1377, from an aristocratic family. His mother was a daughter of the emperor Andronicos IV Paleologos. Around 1415-1420 he leaves Agios Oros and comes to the Klokos Mountain to the place where today the Old Monastery is to be found, in a very inaccessible place to live an ascetic life.
With the support of his uncles Thomas and Demetrios Paleologos - who were impressed by the saintliness of their nephews life - he established a magnificent Monastery in ca 1450.
The first Archangel Michaels Monastery, was destroyed two times by the Turks in 1500 and in 1620. After the second destruction the monastery si rebuilt at the place where thiw Monastery is situated today and is renamed: The Monastery of Archangel Michael and Gabriel (known as the Monastery of the Taxiarchs)
Again the Monastery was destroyed in 1772 by the Albanians during the insurrection under Orlof. 3 years later in 1775 the Monastery, as we know it today, is built.
The main church (Catholikon) of the new Monastery is a cruciform building, its dome being supported by four columns. The roof is vaulted and the dome octagonal. The windows are covered mostly by marble and the icons have been painted by D.K.Phanellis, A.Manelis and I.Economou.
After the liberation from the Turks the Monastery flourished. At one time there were approximately 150 monks and only children. Today a small number of monks is left, who, faithful to the monastic tradition, continue the history and everything the Monastery offers.
During the Turkish rule the Monastery was a spiritual center and a national rampart. When the Revolution was proclaimed the combatant monks went to Aigion and joined the Revolutionary force of Germanos that took part in the first siege of the Castle of Patras. In May 1821 The Monastery of the Taxiarchs became a food-store house and a munitions-depot and continued to be so until 1827.
So from the beginning of the fight for freedom until the end the Monastery of the Taxiarchs functioned as a significant revolutionary center.
Important was also the material help that the Monastery gave to the Revolution of 1821. In the hand written code of the Monastery is mentioned in detail the amount of money, the silverware etc. That were given for the battle.
After the liberation the monks of the Monastery are very active in the spiritual, religious and social field. In 1833 there are 74 monks in the Monastery. The educated monks went to Aigion and started working in the nearby villages as priests, teachers, notaries and lawyers.
In 1837 the Reverend Father of the Monastery Meletis Rovitos founded a Greek School in the Monastery where lessons were given to monks and lay people with an outstanding education. Many monks after finishing this school became leaders of the Greek church. In 1880 a secondary school is founded with permission from the Ministery of Education, that functioned until 1926. After the 2nd world war a secondary school and boarding school is founded where poor people from the countryside could sent their children free of charge until 1970.
The sacred relics
"The Holy Passion" constitutes the price of the Monastery. It was a gift from Thomas and Demetrios Paleologos to the founder of the Monastery, their nephew Hosios Leontios. In the case that contains the Holy Passion (Post-Byzantine period) unique relics are kept:pieces of the Holy Cross, thorns from the crown, chlamys, stones from the Holy Sepulchre.
The Christians of the area often summon the monks to bring the Holy Passion to their village where they perform Litanies in which all participate for divine intervention against pestilence, drought, Locusts etc. The results are immediate and the people of the area feel a great devotion for this treasure of our faith.
The Skull of Hosios Leontios
Wooden cases, gold plated that contain smaller reliquaries with the sacred relics of Holy Saints, hierarchies and ascetics of the Orthodox church. The skill of Hosios Leontios is enshrined in the main church. The sacred relics are gifts from other Monasteries especially given after the destruction that the Monastery has known.
The Monastery possesses a great treasure of gold-embroidery, the selection was an idea of the unforettable Metropolitan of Kalavryta and Aigialeia Agathonikos.
We can see,among others:
Bishops sakkos of the Patriarch Gregorios V
Epigoanation depicting the Holy Trinity
Gold-embroided Epitaphion by Arsenios (1590 A.D.) and belonging to the Metropolitan Neophytos of Ganos and Chora.
Gold- embroided Epitraachelion (stole) made by the embroiders Kokonas (1807)
Selection of Precious Crosses and Gospels
A very precious collection containing:
-A gold carved Gospel with inscription (Chr. Notaras 1785)
-Crosses of gold and precious stores belonging to the period of the Turkish occupation.
The monks of the Monastery produce Rose Sugar (Rhodozachari), a famous product of the Monastery, made from the petals of a special genus of roses.
Address: The Holy Monastery of the Taxiarchs
Telephone: 0691-56209, 56300
Visiting Hours: 7a.m.-1p.m. and 3p.m.-6p.m