Obrazy na stronie


such a house, where their require marks on the body are portentous, ments will be supplied.

according to the Patmiotes. If you There is much more left that is have two lumps on your head, you old in the town of Patmos than will be married twice ; if you have one usually sees in the island towns, long ears, you will have a long life; presumably because the presence of if you have good teeth, you will the monastery has preserved the have wealth ; and the excitement place from marauding attacks. caused by the birth of a baby with Pirates in Greek waters are almost a caul surpasses anything I have universally pious, and they never heard in our own country on this start on an expedition without the interesting phenomenon. A caul blessing of a priest, who not un- is supposed to indicate a glorious frequently stipulates for a share future: it must be blessed at three of their spoil. We visited several different liturgies, and must be very good houses in the town, the hung up on the wall amongst the best always belonging to those collection of domestic saints which who have been sea-captains, and every householder possesses. “May who have brought back objects God protect us," say they, “from from beyond seas to decorate their a beardless and a hairy homes. Of old china, indifferent woman !” In most of their legends pictures, carved funiture, and bric- of gnomes and magicians, it is the a-brac, there is abundance, probably man without a beard and the brought to the island in those days woman with one who invariably when Patmiote merchants traded play the most conspicuous part. with Venice and the mercantile The great remedy for the evil ports of Italy. Of late years their eye on Patmos is to go and cut off wealth has greatly collapsed, and the end of the girdle of the unforcuriosity-dealers from Constanti- tunate possessor of this unenviable nople have found here a rich har- characteristic. This must be burnt vest.

in an incense-burner, and be waved " There has been a great deal of before the person or the object the evil eye about lately," an old which has suffered, and then, by woman told us, whose walls had throwing three carnation-leaves been stripped of Rhodian plates into the fire, it can be seen whether and other ornaments to pay for the charm has been effectual or present exigencies. The god Fas- not. If the leaves crackle, it is a cinus, in short, has survived here sign of healing, and some one must in full vigour. The withering of spit thrice on the person or the trees, the ruin of decay, the de- thing, saying, as he does so, “ Unstruction of crops—every misfor- charmed!” But if the leaves retune, in fact—is in Patmos attri- fuse to crackle, it is best to go to buted to the pernicious influence the monastery at once and secure of a demon by means of the eye of a monk to come and read a prayer a medium, those whose eyebrows to avert the danger. closely join being usually selected. The inhabitants of Patmos half The Patmiotes take the greatest worship the monks of their monpossible notice of personal appear- astery, and believe them entirely ance as indicating certain tenden- devoid of the failings which other cies. The popular saying is—“Red flesh is heir to. When a monk hair and blue eyes—the soul of the passes by or enters a house, it is devil and the heart of Satan.” All customary for the people to touch the ground with their fingers, and who brought us our food, for the then to kiss the hand which the peasants were afraid that, if they holy man proffers. A Patmiote were seen bringing good things inmother's highest ambition is to see side during the great fast, they her son introduced as a “ reader" would incur the displeasure of the into the monastic church, with the monks. Some even refused to prospect of being eventually ad- sell us milk and cheese, affirmmitted as a monk when the days ing that it was a sin; and if it of his probation are over. All the had not been for our tailor, we monks are now of Patmiote origin. might have been condemned to This was not the case in former an involuntary abstinence. Janko days, when many came from afar. took us one afternoon to visit the But of late years many things have nunnery, where the “good old been altered. The old-fashioned ladies” of Patmos retire to repent common life has been abandoned, them of their sins.

I feel sure and the handsome common room, that they fast far more rigorously with its frescoed walls, is rapidly than the monks, for a more attenfalling into decay. Visitors have uated sickly collection of women stolen most of the old tiles which I never saw. We asked on enonce adorned the common table; tering for the lady superior, and the superior's throne is now tot- were told that she was ill in bed, tering on three legs; and the fine and that all the others were in baronial kitchen, which adjoins the church doing their “ hours," and common room, is now used only that if we particularly wished to as a depository for that hateful see them, we might go in too. It lime with which they love to be- was curious sight to witness smear everything that is archi- about forty sisters, in their long tecturally beautiful.

black coats and skirts, with black The monks feed now in their handkerchiefs over their heads, own apartments, to each of which mumbling, chanting, and bowing; a kitchen is attached. They are and for us the “ hour" passed attended upon by a novice, gen- agreeably enough as we stood in erally a member of their own stalls, and watched the nuns at family; and then there are two their metaniathat is to say, or three working monks, who do bowing and kissing the ground the heavy work of the monastery, three times after every fourth such as drawing the water from psalm, and four times after every the well, and occasionally sweep-tenth psalm. The number of ing out and whitewashing the metaniæ that it is possible to get cells. Father John, who performed through in the twenty-four hours, these menial offices for us, was I was told, is three hundred; but a quaint-looking old fellow, with they are by no means obligatory. tattered cassock, weather-beaten It is really wonderful to see how tall hat, and bare legs, very pic- active even the decrepit old ones turesque indeed when seen toiling are in these devotional gymnasup the steps with our “ amphora' tics; and to hear the rapidity of water poised on his shoulders. with which they can say their

A little tailor called Janko was Kyrie Eleisons almost takes away our guide, philosopher, and friend one's breath. The ladies plod outside the monastic walls; and through the services by themwhen Lent had set in, he it was selves, chanting and reading every


[ocr errors]

thing. A special priest, however, which, though extremely dirty, had is kept to perform the incensing valances attached of real Greek and sacred mysteries behind the lace. The poor old thing was screen, where it is not lawful for very shy at being thus closely inwomen to enter; but he is carefully spected by foreigners, and utterly locked out of the nunnery at refused to have her photograph night, and is never supposed to taken, for fear we should work hold converse with any of them. magic with it; and she crossed

The lady superior, a wrinkled herself vigorously when we asked deaf old woman, received us in her if she herself understood anybed, where she lay in all her thing about the black art.

" It is greasy black attire. She was not a sin,” she murmured ; "the Panequal to much conversation ; but agia forbid that I should do such around us sat other puns, who things; " but when we went away, made up for the said deficiency. Janko told us that none in Patmos They spoke much at first in hypo- knew more charms and incantations critical tones of their lovely un- than she did. worldly life," and then they pro- Of course the stock sight of ceeded to state their poverty, and Patmos is the cave in which trafinally invited us to their several dition says St John wrote down his cells, with the object of inducing Revelations. There are many caves us to purchase some of their han- in the island, and, for my part, I diwork. Each nun has her own feel sceptical as to this one being apartments, most of them clean what it professes; for it must have and tidy, and they support them- been exceedingly shallow before selves by weaving and working, the church was built on to it, and and by obtaining presents from moreover, too much exposed to their friends without and casual view for secret meditations, seeing visitors like ourselves.

that it is commanded by the site Another day Janko took us of the old town a little way up the down many dark narrow alleys to opposite hill on the road to the visit one of the three old women monastery. At present, however, who still adhere to the pictur- the cave is sufficiently concealed esque Patmiote costume. Greasy from view by a pile of buildings though it was and faded, we could fast falling into ruins, where a few still appreciate its beauty. The years ago existed a school for the petticoat had once been rich red; education of Greeks; but now that the jacket was of black velvet, local education is much improved with looped-up sleeves; on her in the Levant, parents do not care head she wore a tall erection called to send their sons so far, and the a posin, with a gold embroidered school has been closed. top; the shoes had once been of The care of the churches-one white kid, with turned-up toes; but, adjoining and one over the cavelike the wearer, the clothes were is intrusted to a priest—Papa nought but a reflection of past Makarios by name—and his sister beauty. She lived in a house con- Sophia, who occupy rooms in the sisting of one large room with a ramshackle building. On the first mud floor, and containing a hand- occasion on which we visited the somely carved settee, some fine oak cave, we were lucky in finding chests, and a richly illuminated bed, Sophia alone, for she is deeply imon which she slept, the sheets of bued with the legends of the place,



and the story of Kynops is as much were wont to go. Afterwards she a part of her creed as the exist- gave us a great description of ence of St John is of ours. She is the festival held here on the day a garrulous, energetic old dame; of the theologian-how they hold and, in the absence of her brother, real vigil in the church during the volunteered to show us the cave whole of the night before, and how and the church of St Anna, which the monks come down from the was built up to it by St Christo. monastery with their relics and doulos. She was almost theatrical their banners in grand procession, in her gestures, as she showed to worship in the cave. us the points of interest therein. When we got home, we went to Here was the hole in the rock in see what Prochoros had to say which St John placed his pillow about the cave, and were surprised when he slept; by the side of it to find that he only relates how, was the hole, by the aid of which before his departure from Patmos, St John raised himself from the after an exile of ten years, St John ground when he got up. Over was asked by the inhabitants to these holes rude

was write down the events of the hisshown us, which, Sophia said, the tory of Christ for their benefit and saint had wrought with his own guidance. To do this, the saint hands. Then she showed us two retired to a cave; and after two holes in the roof, to which St John days' meditation sent Prochoros was in the habit of tying himself for ink and parchment, and then by a cord, so that he might not dictated the Gospel to his disciple fall asleep when he said his pray- without a pause from beginning

But the greatest object of to end. Prochoros never so much Sophia's veneration, before which as mentions the Revelations; but she crossed herself and knelt, was Nicitas does, and from his account a tripple rent in the rock, from it is that the locale of the cave which she affirmed that the voice has been decided upon. Nicitas, of the Holy Trinity had issued in the MS. which we saw in the with the divine message to the library, gives a curious account theologian. Every crack and fis- of the writing of the Revelations, sure in the cave is associated with which runs as follows:something sacred, and, as a re- Having at length reached a grotto membrance of the place, Sophia which was three miles (?) (onreía) presented us with some chips of from the town, with water in it, the rock; and it occurred to us we tarried there ten days. John that if she did the same to every remained without food in great quiet, pilgrim, she must have considers and in prayer: as for me, I went to ably altered the dimensions of the the town towards evening, and ate

with my brethren. On the tenth day, cave. We bought a pretty little John himself wished to return to carved wooden bowl, in which the the town, and bending on his knees priest kept his incense for burning prayed; when, all at once, a voice in the church cave, and then were was heard which said, 'John! John!'. conducted by Sophia to her apart. And he replied, : What is it, Lord,' ment, where she regaled us with And the Lord replied, “ Tarry in the sweetmeats and rakki, as she re

cave yet another ten days, and great

and lated to us wonderful stories con

numerous mysteries shall be

revealed unto you.' In accordance cerning the religious ectasies into with this direction he tarried yet which worshippers at the shrine another ten days, remaining without


food, and became in a great ecstasy, of water which fertilised the place, and he perceived great powers, and and made of it the only productive an angel of the Lord, who related to spot on the island. It undoubtedly him what he had seen and heard.

now is the only spring of water on And again calling me, he said, 'Go to the town, bring paper and ink, and Patmos, for the people of the monreturn here.' This I did. Then he astery and of the town have only ordered me to write on the paper all the water which they preserve in the words which came out of his cisterns to live on. mouth; and we passed thus two On and around this fertile spot, more days, he speaking, and I writ- with its carob-trees, olives, and ing. Then we returned again to the solitary palm, are gathered many town, and we were lodged in the house of Sosipater."

little churches, called “ little mon

asteries,” each belonging to a sepThis cave which Nicitas describes, arate family, and containing the in no way corresponds to the one tomb where the departed of each shown now as the Cave of the family are allowed to decay, until Apocalypse. What he means by another member of the same family onleia, it is of course impossible dies, when they are removed to a to say; but the cave where the charnel-house to make room for the church is built is not more than incoming tenant. This system of three-quarters of a mile from the removing bones in Greece at a old town, and has no stream of given period after burial is truly water in it now.

revolting, and productive of many Very shortly after our arrival horrid sights and smells; and if on Patmos, Lent began in all its the charnel-house, as happens fregrim earnest, , and the first day, quently, is in ruins, the family which goes by the name of “Clean have an opportunity of viewing Monday,” the monks spent most their long line of ancestors huddled of their time in church. Not so together in ghastly confusion. the inhabitants, who make merry We are told, with much glee, on this day; and though they eat of a great practical joke which had no meat, they drink a great deal just taken place in one of these of wine, and I am uncertain charnel-houses. During Carnival whether the epithet of “clean” is time a band of young men, presumapplied to this Monday because ably the fast ones of the island, they do not dirty their saucepans, who had visited foreign countries or because they clean themselves and grown sceptical concerning out with wine on this occasion. ghosts and goblins, collected toOn Clean Monday every one who gether in a bone-house, and whenis equal to the scramble goes down ever any one was heard to pass to a spot on the western shore, they rattled the bones around called “the wood or garden of the them, and sang out in chorus, saint,” and here make merry. Tra. “We were all once gay Pallicari," dition says that St Christodoulos, the result being that the women of when he had built his monastery, Patmos were nearly all of them tried to make a garden here, and terrified out of their lives. his workmen laughed at him for Just below this saintly garden attempting to cultivate so barren on the sea-shore all the folks were a spot. The saint was so hurt at gathered and enjoying themselves. this insult that he prayed fervently, They sang songs, they danced and out from a rock came a spring dances, and time passed so agree

« PoprzedniaDalej »