Saint Gerasimos church
The religious center of Kefalonia is undoubtely the Holy Monastery of Saint Gerasimos at Omala. Twice a year, thousands of believers gather there to piously worship Saint Gerasimos and pray. Numerous miracles have been attributed to Saint Gerasimos and the place is definitely devotional, both during Holy Mass and during the procession of the saint’s relics. There are quite a few people who vow to go to the monastery on foot from where they live a few days before the great celebrations of August 16th in order to honour the Saint for the help he has provided them with. The monastery accommodates visitors and there are many who choose to follow all the celebratory days from up close, as well as the mass in the majestic new church next to the old monastery, all year round.
Saint Gerasimos reached Omala in 1560 and renovated the chapel dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, establishing at the same time a woman’s communal Monastery with a multi-member sisterhood dubbing it “Nea Ierusalim” (“New Jerusalem”). On October 20th 1582, the saint’s relics were excavated for a second time; they remain uncorrupted and fragrant for the blessing of the believers and to be worshiped by them. The relics are dressed in their burial vestments and are exhibited for worshipping in a glass case, which is part of a larger, elaborate, silver reliquary, placed on top of the Saint’s grave.
The Saint’s hermitage, which is divided into two “rooms” by a narrow hole, is saved within the church itself and visitors can descend a three meter long ladder in order to see it. The three great plane trees the Saint himself planted, the three wells and the thirty seven smaller ones he dug with his own hands for the benefit of the anhydrous area, as well as the two threshing floors he built and worked to earn the Monastery’s basic necessities are all saved at the Monastery. The new beauteous church dedicated to the Saint was completed by the actions of the current Bishop Spyridon and was inaugurated by his Beatitude Archbishop of Athens Seraphim on July 19th, 1992.
From the year the Monastery was established up until this day, a mass is held from 3 to 7 a.m. The Monastery celebrates 5 times a year: on August 16th (Saint Gerasimos’ Assumption) and on August 23rd ( the nine days after the Saint’s Assumption). During the time period between the two celebrations, the Beatitude Bishop Spyridon established a sacred week in honour of the Saint, with pontifical masses, choirs and preaches.
Also, on October 20th and 26th, the Saint is risen. He is also placed on the bimothyra on Holy Saturday and stays there until Thomas’ Sunday, when the Celebratory Pontifical Mass is held. During these days there is a number of litanies where both the clergy and the followers participate. After the end of each litany, an abundant table meticulously prepared by the nuns is offered. The nuns occupy themselves with accommodating visitors (the Monastery has a guesthouse) and with iconography. They have also developed significant charity and missionary action. Masses are never skipped and the Monastery follows the rituals of the Monastery of Saint Savvas in Jerusalem. Opening hours are 4a.m. to 13.00p.m. and 15.30 p.m. to 21.00p.m. every day.
For any information you can ask:
Blessed Sister Kassiani
Mother Superior of the Holy Monastery of Saint Gerasimos at Omala
28100 Omala, Kefalonia
Tel. 26710 86385 and 26710 86205