August 9, 2023

The Annual Lamentations of the Theotokos at the Gerokomeio Monastery in Patras

Every year, on the Sunday before August 15th, at the Monastery of Panagia Gerokomitissa in Patras, the Lamentations of the Dormition of the Theotokos are chanted, accompanied by a procession. Thousands of believers flock to this Monastery annually for the great event.

This is done because the Lamentations of the Dormition of the Theotokos were composed in a cell of this Monastery by Metropolitan Dionysios of Old Patras in the year 1541. It is therefore done in honor of the composer of these beautiful hymns composed at this location.

In 1996, Metropolitan Nikodemos of Patras edited and published these Lamentations of his predecessor after an authentic manuscript was found at the Dimitsana School (codex 15) of these Lamentations of Metropolitan Dionysios.

In 1997, the Abbot of Gerokomeio Monastery in Patras, and current Chancellor of the Metropolis of Patras, Fr. Symeon Hatzis, published the Lamentations in a special booklet that is handed out for free to thousands of believers and made them a part of the regular liturgical cycle of the Monastery.

Since then, every year on the Sunday before the Dormition of the Theotokos, the Lamentations of the Dormition are chanted in the Monastery of the Panagia, the place where they were written in the 16th century when the Peloponnese was under Ottoman occupation, with unique reverence.

In 1999, a pious pilgrim to the Monastery decided to collect the most precious things nature offers in order to have made and decorated a replica of the reposed body of the Theotokos before which the Lamentations could be chanted. The iconography was done by Athonite Monks, who used wood taken from the sea to paint the image on. Silversmiths from Patras crafted the gold and silver covering which was decorated with 118 precious jewels, all listed in the Old Testament, and collected with the help of mineralogists and geologists, pearls, sterile wood, that is, everything that man can offer to express the precious, the beautiful and the incorruptible.

In June 2000, the Body of the Panagia was handed over by its creator to the Abbot of the Monastery, and since then is kept in the repositories of the Monastery, from where it is taken out in procession only on the official day of the Lamentations.

The faithful describe this annual event as overwhelming and unique and transforming, as the majestic Lamentations of the Theotokos are chanted and an annual procession is made, transporting those present to Apostolic times when the Apostles buried the Panagia near Gethsemene, thus turning Gerokomeio Monastery in Patras into a little Gethsemene.



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