March 21, 2023

The Plane Tree of the Greek Revolution at the Monastery of Megistis Lavra in Kalavryta

In the Monastery of Megistis Lavra (or Agia Lavra) in Kalavryta, Greece is where, in the middle of March 1821, unknown exactly which day, but probably on March 21st, Metropolitan Germanos of Old Patras (who was born in Dimitsana on March 25, 1771) blessed the weapons of a group of 600 revolutionary fighters, had them take an oath and raised the flag of the revolution and the banner of the struggle, which was the curtain of the Beautiful Gate of the temple. On this curtain was depicted an icon of the Dormition of the Theotokos. The call was then repeated by all: "Freedom or Death!"

Before entering the monastery, you will see a huge plane tree, on the trunk of which a marble slab has been placed, which states the following: "Under the historical plane tree, the Sworn Protagonists and their troops of the Greek Revolution gathered with Germanos of Old Patras and after making a prayer to God for the success of their struggle, with the Sacred Banner as a flag they set out to occupy Kalavryta on March 21, 1821. Similarly, here were found in the Monastery the fathers that were killed by the German invaders on December 14, 1943."

In the museum of the monastery, the banner, pierced by bullets, as well as the vestments and the pastoral staff of Germanos of Old Patras are kept. Weapons of the time, documents, coins, etc. are also exhibited.

A clarification on why we call it Old Patras and not just Patras. At that time in Greece there was not one Patras, as we have today, but two! Today's Patras was then called Old Patras to distinguish it from another Greek city or rather town, which was then called New Patras. In ancient times it was called Ypata, then (around the 6th century AD) it was renamed New Patras, and during the Turkish occupation the Turks christened it Patratjik (that is, Little Patras), while today this small town is called Ypati and is located in North Fthiotida.

So to make things clear, the Battle of Chelonospelia (near Kleitoria) took place on March 18, 1821 and was followed by the siege of Kalavryta by 600 fighters on March 21. After a 5-day battle, the Turks surrendered, the city was liberated on March 25, 1821. Later, King Otto issued a royal decree on March 27, 1838, which designated March 25 as a day of national celebration. In Kalavryta, however, they celebrate their liberation on March 21. On the same day, the student parade takes place there and not on March 25.

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